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trait descriptive adjectives

words that describe traits, attributes of a person that are reasonably characteristic of a person and enduring over time.


psychologists who view traits as internal dispositions do not equate traits with the external behaviour in question...

He wants a hamburger, but he is on a diet, so he refrains from expressing his desire in behavioural terms.
You can have the trait without showing it.
psychologists who view traits as internal dispositions believe that traits can lie dormant in the sense that the capacities remain present despite behaviour.


descriptive summary

Jealousy, according to DS this trait describes his behaviour, the trait is used to summarize behaviour, but not assumptions are made about what causes the behaviour.


Act frequency approach

descriptive summary formation, it starts with the notion that traits are categories of acts. For example a dominant person is someone who performs a large number of dominant acts relative to others.


3 aspects of act frequency program

Act nomination: which acts go with which trait categories,

Prototypicality judgement: which acts are most central to each trait category.

Recording of act performance: securing information about the actual performance of individuals in their daily lives.


Act frequency approach problem

not specify how much context should be included in the description of a trait relevant act.

does not account for failures to act, or unobservable instances.


behavioural acts

constitute the building blocks of interpersonal perception and the basis for inferences about personality traits.


benefits act frequency

1. identifying behavioural regularities
2. helpful in exploring the meaning of some traits that have proven difficult to study such as impulsivity.


3 approaches to identify important traits

lexical, statistical, theoretical....


lexical approach

Importance of language: ppl invent words to describe differences. critical for communicating information about important people. ex, manipulative, arrogant,

*2 aspects, synonym frequency (for example lots of synonyms for dominance), and cross- cultural universality (ex, the more important a trait, the more languages will have a term for it).


statistical appraoch

Having a large group of people rate themselves, find groups or clusters.

*Important aspect is factor analysis, finds groups that go together,

*You get out of it what you put into it.


Theoretical approach

a theory that highlights which variables are important. The theory determines which dimensions of individual differences are important.


Eysenck's hierarchical model of personality

Rooted in biology, extraversion/ introversion, neuroticism/ emotional stability and psychoticism.


interpersonal traits

interactions among people, to factors that define this are love and status.



circle, Wiggins and Leary, love and status define the two major axes of the wiggins circumplex.


3 advantages to Wiggins circumplex.

1. explicit definition of interpersonal behavior.
2. Specifies the relationships between each trait and every other trait within the model. (Adjency: how close traits are; Biopolarity: traits at opposite sides; orthogonality: traits that are perpendicular to each other on the model are unrelated. )
3. alerts investigators to gaps in investigations of interpersonal behavior. (ex, dominance studies have neglected unassuming and calculating as traits.)


disadvantage Wiggins model

The interpersonal map is limited to 2 dimensions,


Five factor model

surgency or extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, openness-intellect.


five factor replicability

the first 4 are replicaple, but the fifth is not. intellect in some cultures, conventionality, and openness in others,


Personality development

can be defined as the continuities, consistencies, and stabilities in people over time and the ways in which people change over time.


rank order stability

is the maintenance of individual position within a group.


Personality coherence

changes in manifestations of a trait. This means that the manifestations may be completely different from age 8 to 20. Thus it involves both continuity and elements of change.


Personality change

the changes are typically internal to the person not merely changes in the external surroundings such as walking into another room. Second, the changes are relatively enduring over time.


3 levels of analysis

population, group, individual



as the individual differences that emerge very early in life, are likely to have a heritable basis, and are often involved with emotionality or arousability.


Rothbart 6 factors of temperament

1. activity level
2. smiling and laughter
3. fear
4. distress to limitations
5. soothability
6. duration of orienting.
Her results showed that kids who scored high at one time interval, scored high at another also.



recording device, wrist, activiates by motoric movement


stable traits

neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness all show moderate to high levels of stability.


personality change at a group level

self-esteem, men tend to increase, while females decrease,


cohort effect

the social times in which one lives. one change is woman's status and roles, it was discovered that woman's trait scores on assertiveness rose and fell dramatically depending on the cohort in which woman was raised.


personality coherence

the predictable changes in the manifestation or outcome of personality factors over time, even if the underlying characteristics remain stable.



Organizes the individual traits....


Traits and behaviour

The scientific usefulness of viewing traits as causes of behavior lies in ruling out other causes


Factor loading

Indexes of how much of the variation in an item is explained by the factor



Esyenck extraversion neuroticism pschoticism


Eysencks personality taxonomy has many distinct features

It is hierarchical starting w broad traits whixh subsume narrow traits whixh in turn subsume specific actions.


dolce vita

the personality traits converge and stabilize after age 50. Changes that occur to personality as a result of time. Priorities change....
traits become more set in stone.
the 5 traits show mean level stability over time.


personality coherence

the marshmello test, self-restraint.... two manifestations of the trait at two different times.


Personality definition

Personality is the set of psychological traits and mechanisms within the individual that are organized and relatively enduring and that influence his or her interactions with, and adaptations to the intrapsychic, physical, and social environments.


Utility of traits:

Describe ourselves and others
Explain behaviors
Predict future behaviors


Traits and States

Traits are relatively enduring over time
States are transient experiences



is goal directed, functional, purposeful
Even behaviors that don’t appear functional may be functional


three levels of personality

.... like all others
Human Nature level of analysis
.... like some others
Group (and hence individual) Differences level of analysis
.... like no other
Individual Uniqueness level of analysis



Organizes research findings to tell a coherent story
Can be used to make predictions
Provides a guide for researchers (directing future research)



Beliefs are not necessarily based on facts – this does not mean that they are untrue, but we cannot assume the truth of a belief until it is supported with research


dispositional domain

Deals with ways in which individuals differ from one another
Interest in the number and nature of fundamental dispositions
identify and measure the most important ways in which individuals differ from one another
origin of individual differences and how these develop and change over time


biological domain

Core assumption: humans are collections of biological systems, and these systems provide building blocks for behaviors, thoughts, and emotions
Behavioral genetics of personality
Twin studies, selective breeding


cognitive experiential domain

Focuses on cognition and subjective experience, such as conscious thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires about oneself and others


social and cultural domain

Assumption that personality affects, and is affected by, cultural and social contexts
We will cover topics like:
Personality traits in dating, mating, and separating Sex differences in personality
Social influence tactics


Adjustment domain

Personality plays key role in how we cope, adapt, and adjust to events in daily life
Personality linked with important health outcomes and problems in coping and adjustment
We will discuss topics like:
Type A Personality
Personality Disorders


personality data

Self-Report Data (S-Data)
Observer-Report Data (O-Data)
Test-Data (T-Data)
Life-Outcome Data (L-Data)


self-report advantages and disadvantages

Access to thoughts, feelings, intention
Simple and easy
Definitional truth

May not respond honestly (e.g., social desirability bias)
Lack accurate self-knowledge
Potential overuse


observer data

Naturalistic observation
Pro: realistic context
Con: not able to control events witnessed

Artificial observation
Pro: controlling conditions and eliciting relevant behavior
Con: lacks realism


observational research example?

Gottman and Levenson
Predictors of relationship failures and successes
The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse


advantage and disadvantage observer data

Multiple sources of information (inter-rater reliability)
Provide access to information not attainable through other sources
Lack access to private experiences


test data

Information provided by standardized tests or testing situations
Idea is to see if different people behave differently in identical situations
Situation designed to elicit behaviors that serve as indicators of personality


physiological test data advantage and disadvantage

Appearance of objectivity (can’t fake it)

Artificial setting and conditions
Accuracy of recording dependent on participant perceiving situation as experimenter intended


Projective Techniques: test data

Person presented with ambiguous stimuli and asked to describe what she/he sees

Assumption that person “projects” personality onto ambiguous stimuli

Examples: Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and Rorschach Test


Rorschach Test

Most famous projective technique for assessing personality
Person asked to add structure to ambiguous ink blots
Responses indicative of personality type


projective tests, advantages

May provide useful means for gathering information about wishes, desires, fantasies that a person is not aware of and could not report

Difficult to score, uncertain validity and reliability


life outcome data

Information that can be gleaned from events, activities, and outcomes in a person’s life that is available for public scrutiny
e.g., speeding tickets, medical files, tax returns

Can serve as important source of “real life” information about personality
Personality psychologists may use S- and O-Data to predict L-Data



Reliability refers to the consistency or stability of a measure
Types of reliability
Test-retest reliability
Inter-rater reliability
Internal consistency reliability



Types of validity:
Face validity
Predictive or criterion validity
Convergent validity
Discriminant validity
Construct validity (measures the theoretical construct)


Experimental methods

Used to determine causality
whether one variable causes another
Two key requirements:
Manipulation of one or more variables
Ensuring that participants in each experimental condition are equivalent to each other at start of study
Randomly assign participants to groups


case studies

In-depth examination of the life of one person
Interview of person and informants, naturalistic observation, archival research, etc.
Gordon Allport
Personality in great detail
Insights into personality to formulate a general theory to test on a larger sample
In-depth knowledge about an outstanding figure


greater generalizability

Greater generalizability not always better; what is important is to identify empirically contexts in which a measure is and is not applicable


two competing ideas of traits

Traits as Internal Causal Properties
Traits as Purely Descriptive Summaries


traits as internal causal properties

Traits are presumed to be internal
individuals carry desires, needs, and wants from one situation to next
Desires and needs are presumed to be causal in that they explain behavior of individuals who possess them
Traits can lie dormant even when behaviors are not expressed
View traits as causes of behavior = ruling out other causes


traits as descriptive summaries

Traits are describing trends of expressed behavior without assumption of cause
Allows for role of other causes (e.g., social situations)


limitation of lexical approach

So many traits are defined as important in this method and no scientific method for narrowing down


using a combination of the approaches

Problem of identifying key domains of individual differences

Problem of describing order or structure that exists among individual differences identified


Hierarchical Structure of Eysenck’s System

Super traits (P, E, N) at the top
Narrower traits at the second level
Subsumed by each narrower trait is the third level—habitual acts
At the lowest level of the four-tiered hierarchy are specific acts
Hierarchy has the advantage of locating each specific, personality-relevant acts within increasingly precise nested system


five factor model

Big Five taxonomy has achieved a greater degree of consensus than any other trait taxonomy in the history of personality trait psychology


five factor OCEAN

openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism


population level of analysis

Changes or constancies that apply more or less to everyone
Freud’s theory of psychosexual development


group level analysis

Changes or constancies that affect groups differently
E.G., Gender differences, cultural differences


individual level of analysis

Changes or constancies that affect individuals differently


personality stability

Openness, extraversion, neuroticism decline with age until 50
Agreeableness and conscientiousness gradually increase with age


Cohort effects:

changes over time that are attributable to living in different time periods rather than to “true” change


Test-retest reliability:

if you took a personality scale at the beginning of the term and again the same one at the end of the term, using a correlation, you should find that nothing has changed. If a test has a test-retest reliability of 0.8 or higher, it means that it is fairly reliable. This is for self-report data.


Inter-rater reliability:

two people observing the same situation, should agree on what they are seeing. This is for observational data.


Internal consistency reliability:

It is important because the researcher is creating the scale and distributing the scale. The inner cohesion of a scale. Correlation coefficient of 0.8 or higher.


Face Validity:

The extent to which a scale gives you an idea of what it is supposed to measure.


Predictive or criterion validity:

Ex Happiness, if your scale of measurement is representing happiness, then from the results you should be able to predict one’s level of happiness. How well does my scale, predict the construct?


Convergent validity:

does your measure correlate with other measures of the same construct? For ex. Extraversion correlates with BAS (behavioural activation system; approach motivation).


BIS (behavioural inhibition system)

would by the opposite of BAS, so they are inversely correlated.


Discriminant validity:

It doesn’t correlated with what it shouldn’t correlate with. For example extraversion shouldn’t correlate with BIS.


Construct validity:

Measures the theoretical construct. It includes the other types of validity. The definition is doing a good job at fulfilling the definition.


Correlation coefficient

is between -1, and +1 that’s it. Correlation does not mean causation. All it means is that we have identified two variables that move together. We don’t know which one causes the other.