Chapter 8: Trait Aspects of Personality Flashcards Preview

🎭 PSY230H1F: Personality and Its Transformations (2016) with D. Dolderman > Chapter 8: Trait Aspects of Personality > Flashcards

Flashcards in Chapter 8: Trait Aspects of Personality Deck (45)
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trait approach

The use of a basic, limited set of adjectives or adjective dimensions to describe and scale individuals.


What was Hippocrates' approach to analyzing traits?

8.1 The History of Trait Approaches

He described human temperaments in terms of bolidy humors: sanguine (blood), melancholic (black bile), choleric (yellow bile), and phlegmatic (phlegm).

  • The dominance of a humour determined typical reaction patterns. The sanguine was cheerful, the melancholic depressive, the choleric angry, and the phlegmatic apathetic.
  • Although this idea is biologically groundless, it did well in describing basic reaction patterns.


What were Theophrastus's character sketches?

8.1 The History of Trait Approaches

These are brief descriptions of a type of person that can be recognized across time and place (e.g. the buffoon).


How did Charles Darwin influence the development of trait analysis?

8.1 The History of Trait Approaches

After Darwin introduced his theory of natural selection, individual differences became a hot topic to study. The idea was that consistencies could be found in the psychobiological characteristics of a person.


What are extroversion and introversion according to Carl Jung?

8.1.1 Jung's Extroversion and Introversion

Extroversion refers to an orientation toward things outside onself, whereas introversion is a tendency to turn inward and explore one's feelings and experiences.


What is factor analysis and how did R.B. Cattell use it to contribute to personality psychology?

8.1.2 The Use of Statistics

  • Factor analysis allows us to summarize correlation coefficiants. Variables that are correlated with each other but not with other variables form a dimension, or factor. Factor analysis thus helps us reduce or eliminate redundant information in a list of personality descriptors.
  • Cattel started from Allport's list of 18,00 and derived a list of nonsynonymous adjectives that refer to personality. People were rated on these characteristics and the findings combined with factor analysis.


What are Q-data, T-data, and L-data?

8.1.3 Q-data, T-data, L-data, and the 16PF

  • Q-data is the name Cattell gave to data that are gathered from self-reports and questionnaires.
  • T-data are collected by placing a person into a controlled testing situation; these data are observational.
  • L-data consists of information gathered about a person's life, such as school records.


What are:


8.2 Gordon Allport's Trait Psychology

According to Allport, these were the constant, core behaviours of an individual through different times, situations, and ages.


What are interactionist approaches to personality?

8.2 Gordon Allport's Trait Psychology

These approaches study person-by-situation interactions. According to Allport, personality is deeply rooted within the person, and each individual has unique, key qualities. These qualities also interact with the environment.


What is Allport's definition of personality?

8.2 Gordon Allport's Trait Psychology

The dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine characteristic behavior and thought.


How did Allport apply culture to the trait perspective?

8.2.1 The Importance of Culture

  • He emphasized that people don't generally confuse Vietnamese people with Venetians as culture provides people with recipes of life. Thus, he asked to what extent people change their traits when they immigrate.
  • He did applied work on the study of racism towards blacks and Nazis towards Jews.


What were Allport's problems with Cattell's factor analysis?

8.2.2 Functional Equivalence

  • Factor analysis can't fully depict the life of an individual since it's only a statistic.
  • Factor analysis merely produces clusters but doesn't name them, and there's also the question of whether any name can do justice to a certain cluster.


What did Allport mean by functional equivalence?

8.2.2 Functional Equivalence

In Allport's words, traits render many stimuli functionally equivalent and can guide equivalent forms of expressive behaviour. For example, a superpatriot may view socialists, Jews, the UN, etc. to be despised and scorned; they're seen as equivalent by this extremist. This person may deliver hate speeches and join lynch mobs; these are equivalent behaviours. These consistencies form the basis for Allport's conception of personality.


What are:

common traits

8.2.3 Common Traits

The traits that people in a population share; they're basic dimensions.


What is:

functional autonomy

8.2.3 Common Traits

When people become independent of their origins in childhood.

  • Allport thought that an individual's motivations could have its origins in the childhood socialization of instinctual tendencies. However, in adulthood these motives or strivings take on a life of their own.
  • Thus, sometimes, it's not appropriate to try and trace behaviours back to childhood.


What is:


8.2.3 Common Traits

This term was used by Allport to refer to the core of the personality. (It means "one's own.") That is, there are layers within the human psyche, including an irreducible core that defines who we are.


What is a:

nuclear quality

8.2.4 Personal Dispositions

A person's disposition in terms of their goals, motives, or styles.

  • However, this didn't allow Allport to study people's commonalities, and thus he turned to personal disposition.



personal disposition

8.2.4 Personal Dispositions

A trait—a generalized neuropsychic structure—that's particular to the individual.



cardinal disposition

8.2.4 Personal Dispositions

Personal dispositions that exert an overwhelming influence on behaviour.


What is a:

central disposition

8.2.4 Personal Dispositions

A fundamental quality that can succinctly portray an individual.

  • These types of qualities are what professors would be likely to talk about in a reccomendation letter.
  • Personality is usually revolved around this, versus cardinal dispositions.


What is:

implicit personality theory

8.3.1 How Was the Big Five Model Developed?

A type of biasing tendency wherein we see things that aren't really there. That is, we may tend to see people in terms of five dimensions of personality, but these dimensions may not actually exist.


Do the Big Five personality traits actually exist?

8.3.1 How Was the Big Five Model Developed?

  • There are two problems with how the Big Five traits were gathered through factor analysis and observer ratings: (1) the implicit personality theory and (2) not seeing things that really are there.
  • In order to get past this, behavioural geneticists have determined that basic trait dimensions do exist. The number of them is uncertain, but there are biologically grounded basic dimensions.
  • For example, regardless of whether extroversion is understood in terms of a responsitivty of the nervous system, a developed pattern of behaviour, or a genetically programmed orientation, there's still value to seeing this construct as real in a biological sense.


What has cross-cultural research shown us about the Big Five?

8.3.1 How Was the Big Five Model Developed?

  • Cross-cultural research among people of different ages and education levels has been able to produce the same five factors.
  • However, some studies in non-English-speaking countries have found different dimensions such as spirituality and honesty-humility.
  • In studies of hunter-gatherer-type societies that are largely illiterate, the five factors couldn't be reproduced at all. However, these people did still have words in their language used to describe individual differences in terms of morality and competence.
  • These studies also warn about uncritical uses of the Big Five, as different cultures may value different dimensions very differently.
  • Studies have also shown sub-cultures that exist in states or cities. For example, cities high on being intellectual are places like LA and San Francisco, while other cities are big on "heart" such as Miami. This may be because certain cities attract individuals with certain personalities, and the people in these cities will influence the behaviours of one another to some extent.


Do the Big Five factors have useful applications in understanding people's career paths?

8.3.2 Career Pathways and Other Important Outcomes

  • Certain traits can predict the success of individuals in certain jobs. For example, people in Extroversion would be good at being politicians or high-visibility leaders with their boldness, energy, and ambition. People high in Agreeableness are likely to be altruistic, and therefore may run nonprofit organizations or be good moms and dads. 
  • Many times, it's helpful to understand combinations of personality traits to best predict outcomes. For example, people low on Conscientiousness and high on Neuroticism are more likely to smoke and be unhealthy.


Are five dimensions enough for summarizing common traits?

8.3.3 More Than Five? Fewer Than Five?

  • Using Allport's idiographic approach, more than five trait dimensions would be needed. But the Big Five are nomothetic, i.e. meant to be used when the same dimensions are applied across individuals.
  • However, currently there's no compelling and comprehensive theory that explains why five dimensions are sufficient to capture what we need to compare and contrast individuals.
  • Such a theory may require that we find five kinds of biological responses in the brain, or result from analysis of evolutionary pressures that forced us to cooperate (Agreeableness) and be good leaders (Extroversion).
  • Cattell strongly maintained that 16 general personality factors are essential. He also urged for analysis of changes in personality over time.
  • Even proponents of the Big Five turn to additional trait descriptors, called facets, when describing personality fully.


Why did Eysenck believe that there were less than five basic dimensions of personality?

8.3.4 Eysenck's Big Three and Related Alternatives

He relied on his three-pronged biological model of nervous system temperament. He proposed that all traits derive from three biological systems. Eysenck believed that other evidence, outside factor analysis, should guide the selection of factors. For example, there's evidence that people's tendencies on several characteristics (e.g. anxiety level, friendliness, etc.) maintain fairly stable throughout adult life. (i.e. If you're friendly at 25 you probably won't be very crotchety at 60.) But people do tend to be more conscientious and agreeable as the age.


What were Eysenck's three dimensions of personality?

8.3.4 Eysenck's Big Three and Related Alternatives

  1. Extroversion, which includes Cattell's outgoingness and assertiveness.
  2. Neuroticism, which includes Cattell's emotional instability and apprehensiveness.
  3. Psychoticism, which is the tendency toward psychopathology, involving impulsivity and cruelty. It includes Cattell's tough-mindedness and shrewdness.

This approach is one of the few to take into account the biological bases of personality (what Allport termed its "psychophysical" aspects).


What is the evidence for Eysenck's approach?

8.3.5 Evidence for Eysenck's Approach

  • One study examined self-reported traits and found that people who were sensitive to signals of punishment were high on neuroticism, and people sensitive to signals of reward were high on extroversion.
  • Another study had introverts and extroverts rate the pleasantness of social situations and found that extroverts rated social situations more positively than introverts only when the situations were pleasant. This demonstrates how extroverts are more motivated by reward (pleasantness) than sociability itself.
  • Another study of women using fMRIs to look at brain reactivity to pleasant images found that extroverts showed greater brain activity to positive than negative stimuli.
  • Interestingly, recent studies have shown that extroversion is on the rise in American populations. A purely biological approach wouldn't make sense, as the population isn't currently facing any evolutionary pressures. This reminds us that we have to take multiple approaches into account when analyzing personality.


How can we be sure of our accuracy in judging other people on personality dimensions?

8.4.1 Consensus in Personality Judgments

  • If a group of strangers rates a group of people on a set of characteristics that are put through factor analysis, and seem to be analagous with the the factor analyses of the individuals themselves, then we can be sure that the observed factors aren't being made up in the observer's head.
  • Additionally, if the factor analysis of the individual by a close friend is closer to the indivudal's rating than the strangers's, this would indicate valid judgements of personality rather than stereotyped judgements.
  • There also seems to be consensus among observers at the zero acquiantance state, when you've never seen the other person before. This also demonstrates the reliability of personality.
  • Ratings by spouses also end in the Big Five dimensions, adding another element of validity.


What are some of the dangers of not being careful in how we use the idea of traits?

8.4.2 Limits of Trait Conceptions

  • We might underestimate the role of other aspects of personality and the social situation.
  • We might overlook the individual's personal dispositions or the fact that basic personality dimensions do a better job of describing some individuals more than others.
  • Trait conceptions contradict behaviourist and social learning approaches, which emphasize environmental causes.