Theories of Personality (PSY 225-A01)/Chapter 8

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This page will focus on the trait perspective.

  • Originates from ancient Greek (bodily fluids from Adler's typology), certain temperamental patterns are associated with certain body fluids.
  • Darwin dwells on individual differences from a biological perspective.
  • Jung/neo-analytic approach, wasn't empirically sound but led to the big classifications as seen in the MBTI.

Beginning of Modern Approaches[edit | edit source]

  • Take a quantitative approach (statistics)
  • Allport - took a dictionary, came up with different traits from words in the dictionary
  • Cattell - used factor analysis (statistically finds relatable variables [sort of like a category]); suggested multiple data describe personality (Q-data, T-data, L-data). Came up with construct validity (see ch. 1), which led to 16PF [16 personality-factors, self-report personality assessment].

Allport’s Trait Psychology[edit | edit source]

  • Importance of culture - Our culture impacts how we approach our lives, certain traits are more relevant in other cultures (studied prejudice, increase in social factors in our personality).
  • Functional equivalence - Didn't believe the complexity of someone can be reduced to statistically derived factors [Cattell] --> idea that different behaviors of an individual are similar in their meaning (function is the same: nurturing --> cooking a meal, giving a hug, taking care of the elderly).
  • Common traits - Approached this nomothetically (universal application). We share a common biology/culture, those commonalities lead to common traits. In the ideographic approach, he looked into personal dispositions (goals, motives, style). Further characterized this into cardinal disposition or a central disposition. Cardinal: one that exerts an overwhelming influence on a person's behavior; rare (Hitler's evil, Mother Teresa's good) | Central: fundamental qualities that an individual possesses (honesty, kindness).

Big Five: Contemporary Approach (Cattell)[edit | edit source]

Advantage: Simplicity. Large variables --> factor analysis --> smaller # of manageable variables [disadvantage: but we also lose some variables as we reduce this group]

Skepticism revolves around whether these variables actually exist.

Subject many variables through factor analysis, use these variables to measure F & M categories - those factors indeed correspond to maleness or femaleness. These are objective categories that already exist. The big five are created tho, do these exist because we created them or do they really exist?

We as humans have a tendency to see certain characteristics - but we don't see the big picture, only what we want to see. Maybe we focus on extroversion/introversion but might out on other variables we cannot see?

Evidence: Culture supports the Big Five, works well in most cultures (certain non-English cultures are exceptions, such as humility). Cultural variations exist (comparing Mexican-Americans to European-Americans, we see differences [cooperations, for example]).

Outcomes: Has been tied to careers & health. High extroversion --> leaders, politicians. High consciousness --> success in school. Comb. of consciousness & low neuroticism --> entrepeneruship. High neuroticism --> low risk-taking. Smokers are low in consciousness/high in neuroticism. Drinkers are low in consciousness/high in extroversion [seeking out social settings, alcohol is usually present at alcoholic settings].

More/less than 5?

  • Since this is not theory-driven, we can't really explain this. It is so statistically-driven (with no theories), we are left unanswered.
  • Cattell maintains that they were 16 and wanted statistics to be the answer behind this. NEOPI-R contains the Big Five with 6 sub-domains. This implies that they are more than 5.
  • Lack of overlap with the subdomains. Neuroticism (NEOPI-R), one of the domains is anxiety and depression. Arguments arrive against them being related under one category. Treated differently, but may appear together in certain cases. Is 5 really the number?

Eysenck’s Big Three[edit | edit source]

  1. Extroversion
  2. Neuroticism
  3. Psychotism

...corresponded to 3 biological systems. See Theories of Personality (PSY 225-A01)/Chapter 5#Temperament for a review on Gray’s Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (BAS/BIS).

Evidence: Feeling threatened to certain situations do increase neuroticism (supports Gray's theory).

Research has found that extroverts have rated pleasure over social situations. Extroverts like the reward, not exactly the sociability. Seems that the 'reward factor' is important when it comes to extroversion, not just sociability.

Personality Judgements[edit | edit source]

  • People confirm that the Big Five exist
  • Predictive validity shows certain traits do lead to certain behaviors.
  • The Big Five don't apply to all & de-emphasizes situation (see next chapter).

Murray's needs-based approach[edit | edit source]

  • People can be described either [1] or [2]. What MBTI does; but looking traits on a continuium is better.
  • Motives: direct [ask what their goals are] or indirect [projective tests; take something ambigious and gives us our turn on it] (TAT (Thematic Apperception Test))
  • Motivational approach to traits:

- n Ach : need for achievement [seeking awards/status]

- n Aff : need for affiliation [need to be with others; people-pleasing]

- n Power : need for power [seek positions; need for achievement or power?]

- n Exh : need for exhibition [expressing one-self]

Expressive style[edit | edit source]

...a person's general stable way of gesturing (voice cues); details us their personality. Based on how well others can read their emotions (animation, intensity); expressiveness is related to percieved attraction. If we take an expressive personality, their attractiveness increases. Related to extroversion.

  • Infancy --> temperament : feelings, intensity of reactions to pleasant/non-pleasant stimuli
  • Adult personality: even more stable overtime, same job/neighborhood/hobbies/spouse.
  • Dominance: people who are dominant take up more space, interrupt, prominence [get attention] --> this also increases other peoples' expressiveness. Overall, these people are better communicators.
  • Health: Type A's personality: + hostility; - health outcomes. Charismatic expressive style: + healthier [optimism?]. Unexpressive people? Naturally, then doesn't rlly mean they are unhealthy; non-natural, then this may be depression.