Chapter 4 (106-130) Personality Traits: Fundamental Concepts and Issues Trait talk Nobody, no matter how strong a given trait, is perfectly consistent; no single trait can characterize any person Despite its important limitations, trait talk is a useful and natural way to account for human individuality Characterizing somebody in terms of a few well-chosen and carefully considered trait adjectives can provide a compact and efficient portrayal of that person in general terms Traits can be labels or stereotypes, though A trait description can oversimplify and gloss over the many important details of a personality ? trait talk can be a lazy way out Trait talk that stereotypes out-groups and strangers can be used to fuel hatred and justify discrimination, warfare, slavery and genocide Linked traits to trends in behavior and have examined the interactions of traits and situational variables in the prediction of behavior Trait talk is unavoidable aspect of everyday conversation Traits are indispensable units for understanding personality Impossible to account for psychological individuality without resorting to traits in some way or another Traits provide an initial outline or sketch of a person?s individuality The idea of a Trait What is a trait? Concept of a personality trait is rooted in common sense an everyday observation Trait: general term referring to an individual difference variable assumed to reflect an underlying, internal, and stable personality disposition. Viewed to be linear and bipolar Additive and independent Suggestive of relatively broad individual differences in social and or emotional functioning Level 1: Dispositional traits Level 2: characteristic adaptations Level 3: integrative life stories Traits are internal depositions that are relatively stable over time and across situations Typically conceived in bipolar terms, understood as a continuum ranging from one extreme to another Often couched in the language of opposites People are seen as situated alone any particular trait continuum in relatively normal distribution, many people reside toward the middle Generally seen as additive and independent, traits thus combine as independent ingredients in making personality Mix traits together and you can predict how one is different from others and consistency in behavior Trait recipes = trait profiles Personality traits usually refer to broad individual differences in socioemotional functioning ? they may be distinguished from other variables that appear to be less socioemotional and more cognitive, such as values, attitudes, and schemas Temperament = traits Character = schemas We consider the general trait of intelligence to be outside the personality domain Personality traits refer to individual differences between people in characteristics thoughts, feelings and behaviors Psychologists use trait concepts to account for consistencies in behavior from one situation to the next Traits are typically viewed the reside with the person - relatively general, global and stable dispositions Almost always viewed as comparative dimensions, and one?s position on a trait continuum is always relative to the positions of others Associated with social interaction and socioemotional aspects of life Four positions of the nature of traits 1. Neurophysiologic substrates: traits are biological patternings in the CNS that cause behavior to occur and account for the consistencies in socioemotional functioning from one situation to the next and over time (Allport, Eysenck, Gray, Cloninger, Zuckerman) 2. Behavioral dispositions: traits are tendencies to act, think or feel in consistent ways that interact with external influences, such as cultural norms and situational variables, to influence a person?s functioning. Trait attributions can be used both to describe behavior summaries and to suggest casual or generative mechanisms for behavior (Cattel, Wiggins, Hogan, McCrae and Costa) 3. Act frequencies: traits are descriptive summary categories for behavioral acts. Acts that have the same functional properties may be grouped together into families, with some acts being more prototypical or representative of the general family features that others (Buss and Craik) 4. Linguistic categories: traits are convenient fictions devised by people to categorize and make sense of the diversity of human behavior and experience. Traits do not exist outside the mid of the observer, and therefore they can have no causal influence. Through social interactions and discourse, people construct meanings for trait terms psychologists who dismiss traits as convenient fictions usually look to the environment situation for the causes of behavioral consistencies many personality psychologists today seem to have adopted a fuzzy but reasonable compromise view that is closest to the second position ? dispositions that have some casual influence on behaviors, though the influences are complex and exist in interaction with situational factors acknowledge that traits line up with certain predictable behavioral acts (third position) History of traits Ancient texts ? book of Genesis Fourth century b.c.e ? Theophrastus generated one of the first trait taxonomies in Western civilization ? pupil of Aristotle Greek physician Galen ? 4 humors ? most famous Blood- sanguine personality ? bold, confident Black bile ? melancholic ? depressed and anxious Yellow bile ? choleric ? restless, irritable And phlegm ? phlegmatic ? aloof, apathetic Kant ? recast the four temperament types along the dimensions of activity and feelings Eysenck ? recast the 4 types along the lines of two superordinate traits ? extrovert and neuroticism Kretschmer and Sheldon ? revived ancient belief that bodily forms and differences are associated with personality traits (1921 and 1940) Sheldon ? constitional psychology = body?s constitution was associated with particular personality characteristics Three body types (refers solely to men) 1. Round and soft, fat = endomorph. Easy going, affable, relaxation and comfort 2. Thin and bony = ectomorph. Restraint, privacy, introversion, self-conscious 3. Muscular, stamina = mesomorph. Aggressive, dominant, adventurous, courageous Galton ? important individual differences in personality could be gleaned from language Gordon Allport First modern trait theories Traits are major structural units of personality and account for the consistency and coherence of human behavior Defined traits as neuropsychic structure having the capacity to render many stimuli functionally equivalent and to initiate and guide equivalent forms of adaptive and expressive behavior Insisted trait labels were more than mere semantic conveniences ? they exist as unobservable neuropsychic structures Traits account for consistency in human behavior Behavior is lawful and predictable due to traits Existence of a trait in a person may be ascertained from at least 3 kinds of evidence Frequency, range of situations, and intensity Common trait: dimensions of human functioning upon which many different people are likely to differ. Personal disposition: a trait that is especially characteristic of a given individual and is therefore instrumental for depicting that individual person?s uniqueness. The same trait can be viewed as either common or personal depending on the point of reference Personal dispositions Cardinal disposition: very general and pervasive train. Directly or indirectly involved in a wide range of the person?s activities. A person has at most one or two. Serves as a defining feature of a person?s personality profile Central dispositions: more common. Refer to a wide range of dispositions that may be characteristic for a given person and called into play on a relatively regular basis. People typically have 5-10. Secondary dispositions: more limited in scope and less critical to the description of overall personality. People have many. Exhibited under a relatively limited set of conditions Traits must be understood against the back drop of variability Insisted that personality psychologist examine the uniqueness of the individual case, he was ambivalent about the idea of common, comparative traits of personality. Raymond Cattell Emphasized rigorous quantification and statistical analysis in research Ultimate goal of improving scientist?s ability to predict behavior Personality = behavioral prediction Traits are especially important Focused on common traits Three different sources of date for traits L-data = life data ? real life behavior Q-data = questionnaire T-data = test data ? behavioral records from lab experiments Public ratings, self reports, test behavior provide very different readings on a person?s dispositions Factor analysis: statistical approach to derive a complex classification scheme for traits. Researcher examines the ways in which responses to different questions and measures cluster together. Enables the researcher to reduce a large number of items of variables to a smaller set of underlying dimensions called factors. Surface traits: related elements of behavior that, when empirically measured and intercorrelated, tended to cluster together. Readily observable in behavior Factory analysis indicated that the many surface traits that might be observed could be reduced to a smaller number of underlying traits Source traits: 16 basic factors underlying the many different surface traits that might be identified Traits could be subdivided into three functional categories Dynamic traits: set the individual into action to accomplish a goal Ability traits: concern effectiveness with which the individual reaches a goal Temperament traits: concern such stylistic aspects of response as speed, energy and emotional reactivity Psychological individuality could be well described in terms of 16 source traits, one of which was intelligence Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF) 187 questions proof of a trait measure?s value was its ability to predict behavior to enhance behavioral prediction, combined scores on different traits into specification equation differentially weighted each trait according to its relevance for a given behavioral situation could also include nontrait variables pertaining to transient states such as fatigue and temporary moods and particular roles demanded by the situation to predict behavior with any degree of precisions, should obtain precise measures on a host of internal and external variables: personality traits, temporary states and roles, situational factors Hans Eysenck Worked with Cattell Employed statistical procedure of factor analysis to reduce the many possible traits that could be measured in questionnaires to a reasonable number of basic dimensions Unlike Cattell, he believed that the resultant trait factors obtained from factor analysis should be statistically independent of one another, the factors should be arranged, rotated, so that they are uncorrelated to one another Eysenck and Cattell differed dramatically with respect to the number of basic traits they believed exist Cattell = 16 Eysenck = 3 Big 3 supertraits, aka types Extraversion - Introversion Neuroticism Psychoticism ? taps into dimensions of functioning that are typically associated with psychotic and psychopathic behavior Extra-into and neuroticism recapture typology of humors Persons may be classified in a two-dimensional space created by the intersection of these two traits Extraverted + neurotic = choleric Extraverted and low neurotic = sanguine Introverted and neurotic = melancholic Introverted and low neurotic = phlegmatic Longitudal studies show that individual differences in extraversion-introversion and neuroticism are highly stable over long periods of time, especially adulthood Twin study ? suggest that individual differences in these two traits are at least moderately determined by genetic differences among people ? also linked to patternings in the CNS Extra-into = brain?s reticular activating system Neuroticism = limbic system Big Five and Related models Galton ? Lexical hypothesis Stated that personality descriptions can be found most readily by examining a language?s lexicon, the words contained in a dictionary. Allport and Odbert 18,000 words referring to psychological states, traits and evaluations 4,500 reflected relatively stable and enduring personality traits Cattell Reduced Allport's list of 4,500 to 117 Developed a set of 35-40 clusters of related terms and used them for the construction of self-report and peer-report rating scales Eventually 16 source trait list Fiske 22 of Cattell?s rating scales and concluded five basic traits accounted for most of the intercorrelations Five basic categories Five Factor Model ? dominant taxonomy for dispositional traits Extraversion-introversion Neuroticism Agreeableness Conscientiousness Openness to Experience Five Factors - Costa and McCrae Extraversion Neuroticism Openness to Experience Agreeableness Conscientiousness NEO-PI-R: questionnaire that asses all 30 facets in the model of the Big Five Criticism of the Big Five: does not specify how particular traits that reside within each of the five domains relate to one another Circumplex Model of Traits Wiggins A circular arrangement of traits, in which trait terms are organized structurally according to the two independent dimensions of strength (dominance vs. submissiveness) and warmth (warm vs. cold) Bisects the circular space with the independent axes of agency and communion which roughly correspond to power/dominance and love/warmth Suggested that the interpersonal circumplex gives definition to the intersection of extraversion and agreeableness. Extraversion matched with agency = overlap considerable with common understandings of dominance Wiggins and Trapnell argued that the dimensions of extraversion/surgency/dominance and agreeableness/nurturance should have some conceptual priority in the Big Five because they map dimensions of psychological functioning that have such wide relevance Agenic and communal factors with in all traits Digman (?Big Two?) Different take on the relation between agency and communion Factor analyzed correlations from 14 studies supporting Big Five Model, 5 on kids/teens, 9 on adults Two factors evident in all studies = Socialization (Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Neuroticism): Low neuroticism: highly agreeable, conscientious and emotionally stable ? fit well into societies as adults Problems in A C or N likely to be problems in communion Growth of Self (Extraversion, Openness to Experience) Highly extraverted and open = energetic seekers, agentic Problems in E and O = likely to manifest themselves in the realm of human agency Excessively introverted and rigid (low openness) = unable to experience the full potential of human agency Low extraversion and low openness stunt psychological growth of the self Possibility that extraversion and openness to experience amy shade more in the direction of the first goal ? the goal of fulfilling one?s agency ? while Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Neuroticism may be somewhat more centrally implicated in the second, communal goal of living together with others in a viable human community Measuring Traits Constructing a trait measure Assumed that people are able to make trait judgments with some degree of accuracy Methods used to asses traits tend to be relatively straightforward and simple Self-report questionnaires Rating scales No single approach to test construction agreed upon Most popular: construct approach 1. Clear conceptual definition of the trait of interest 2. Write items, questions or statements. ? yes or no. scores for yes or no, add up points to get trait score 3. goal to generate an item pool that completely covers the content domain of the trait 4. decrease the chances of excluding unexpectedly relevant items, increase chances of learning precisely where the boundaries of our trait lie ? find what content the trait does or does not include 5. examine empirical results i.e. item analysis ? determine the contribution that each item makes to the scale by correlating the scores on each item with the total score. 6. Factor Analysis 7. Examine the extent to which the trait measure predicts behavior Convergent validity: evidence for positive associations between different measures of the same trait Discriminant validity: the extent to which different measures of different constructs do not relate to each other Criteria of a good measure Construct approach follows the idea of construct validity: the extent to which a test measures what is says it measures ? scientific process. Process of simultaneously validating a test and the construct that the test is measuring. Constructs ? ineffable abstractions trait scales measure i.e. friendliness, intelligence, etc. Process of construct validity begins with the construct itself, which typically is embedded in a larger theory of personality functioning. Design a measure of construct and then observe the extent to which the measure itself produces empirical results ? observational behaviors- that conform to the theory. Nomological network: the interlocking system of empirically supported propositions that constitute the theory of a given construct. The propositions specify how test performance should be related to particular nontest behaviors that can be directly assessed. Construct validity refers to the extent to which empirical support has been gathered for the propositions contained in the construct?s nomological network. Reliability: cardinal criterion of a trait measure?s worth Consistency of a particular personality measure Split half reliability: test?s internal consistency is assessed by correlating subject?s scores on one half of a particular test with their corresponding scores on the other half. If a test is internally consistent, each part of the test yields comparable results; indeed, each test item can be seen as contributing to a homogenous pool of information about a given trait Utility: test that provides practical information that can be used for specific purposes is preferred over one that cannot Social desirability: bias, trait measures should be free of. Should not be influenced greatly by a person?s desire to present a favorable or socially desirable fašade. Trait Inventories Personality inventories: contain numerous trait scales, each scale comprising a subset of items contained in the large item pool for inventory MMPI: Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory: most widely used and thoroughly researched personality measure in the past 70 years. ? Hathaway and McKinley Condenses questions into paper and pencil form Originally designed to be a clinical diagnostic instrument Criterion-key method: general method of construction, assumes that a valid scale for the trait will consist of items that people whom clinicians have diagnosed as this trait frequently endorse, regardless of the content of those items and regardless of the theory of that trait with which one is working. Contrasts with the theory-oriented construct method of test construction. MMPI criticized for weak reliability and validity, many test items are out of date. MMPI-2 ? widely used today as a clinical assessment California Psychological Inventory (CPI) Designed to asses a broad range of traits applicable to normal populations Harrison and Gough
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