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Flashcards in Personality: Trait Approach Deck (23):
1

Defining personality- some common themes

Individuality and distinctiveness
Structure and organisation
Life history- how personality develops
Consistent patterns of behaviour

2

Theories of personality

Several different and often conflicting theoretical perspectives

3

What are traits?

Relatively stable patterns of thought, feeling, or behaviour that characterise an individual

4

What are states?

Are temporary patterns of thought, feeling or behaviour

5

Early trait taxonomies: Allport & Odbert (1936) listed 18,000 English words that could be used to describe people

Anxious, emotional, secure, fun-loving, cautious, withdrawn, courteous, good-natured, irritable, etc.
If you throw out synonyms, slang, and uncommon words, 171 are left

6

More early trait taxonomies are

Cattell's 16 personality factors

And method-factor analysis- objective, scientifically derived taxonomy

7

What is the big five?

Neuroticism
Extraversion
Conscientiousness
Agreeableness
Openness to experience

8

Do traits exist? The consistency controversy. Assumption-

Traits are stable and enduring

9

Mischel (1968) argued instead for situationalism

Traits are not consistent across situations therefore traits are not predictive of behaviour

10

After a long debate, scientists agree that traits do exist, but with two caveats

-traits predict average behaviour, not every relevant behaviour in every situation
-traits are just one of multiple causes for any single behaviour

11

The consistency controversy resolved: interactionism (person-by-situation)

Trait relevant behaviour may emerge in some situations, but not others

12

Traits and biology,

Given that people do differ in their personalities, how do these differences arise?

13

Genetics and personality: twin method- compares the degree of similarity between twins

Monozygotic twins (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins

14

Results of twin studies: Loehlin and Nichols (1976) heredity environment and personality: a study of 850 sets of twins

Resemblance of identical and fraternal twin pairs: typical correlations within pairs

15

Personality scales

.50 in identical twins
.28 in fraternal twins

16

What is temperament?

Biological, inborn dimension of personality; appears early, remains stable

17

Research on temperament 1:

Inhibited and uninhibited children (kagan 1994, 2003)
20% high reactive (over aroused, inhibited
40% low reactive (under aroused, uninhibited)
Temperamental patterns-first 4 months and persist

18

Research on temperament 2

Which regions of the brain contribute to inhibited tendencies?

19

Research on temperament 3

Schwartz et al. (2003)- examined a group of young adults (inhibited vs uninhibited)
Reactions to familiar faces vs novel faces
Measurement techniques- brain imaging (fMRI)
Which brain areas activate familiar and novel faces?

20

Traits and environment: what impact does family have on personality?

Studies with adopted children: personality measures taken from adopted children and adoptive siblings
Average correlation .04 (plomin and Daniels, 1987)

21

Traits and environment: studies with twins reared apart

Personality measures taken from:
Twins reared in same family:
- identical twins .51
- fraternal twins .23
Twins reared apart:
- identical twins .50
- fraternal twins .21
Being reared apart did not alter scores
Family plays little role in shaping personality? (E.g. Harris, 1998)

22

Impact of family on personality?
Shared environments (between-family effects)
Non shared environments (within family effects)

Q. Why are all children from the same family so different? (Plomin and Daniels, 1987)
A. Non shared environments

23

Contributions of the trait approach

Systematic description of personality
Reduces large number of individual differences to manageable size
Understanding of how person and situation shape behaviour
Agreement on big five model-allows researchers to share data