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Personality Psychology. Brent W. Roberts University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. What is Personality?. Broadly speaking it has to do with how each of us is: Different from everyone else Similar to some people The same as all humanity Specifically…. Distal causes. Units of Analysis.

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Personality psychology
Personality Psychology

Brent W. Roberts

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


What is personality
What is Personality?

  • Broadly speaking it has to do with how each of us is:

    • Different from everyone else

    • Similar to some people

    • The same as all humanity

  • Specifically….


Distal causes

Units of Analysis

Fulcrum of assessment

Distal causes

Traits

Big Five

Positive & Negative Affect

Attachment Styles

Genes

Society/

Culture

Reputation:

Observations

Unconscious

processes

Motives & Values

Goals

Interests

Life tasks

Physio-

Logical

Mechanisms

Roles:

Status

Affiliation

Intimacy

Abilities

g

Verbal, Spatial,

Quantitative

Identity:

Self-reports

Conscious,

subjective

experience

Narratives

Stories

Significant memories

Scripts

Ideological settings


How did you get your personality
How did you get your personality?

  • Genes?

  • Experience?

  • Both?


Heritability of personality traits
Heritability of Personality Traits

  • Most personality traits have a heritability between .3 to .5

  • Personality is only weakly influenced by “shared” family environment (social class, child-rearing styles, religion, etc.)

  • Personality is more strongly affected by nonshared environment (accidents, sibling interaction, influences outside of family).

    • Effects replicate for Monozygotic twins raised apart.

    • Average personality trait correlation among adopted siblings is near zero.

    • Average personality trait correlation between parents and adoptive children is often near zero.

    • Average personality trait correlation between parents and biological offspring is very small.


Moving from behavior genetics to the genome
Moving from behavior genetics to the genome.

  • Are there specific genes that affect personality?

    • Wrong question.

  • Correct question: How do genes interact with environments to determine personality (Caspi et al., 2002 & 2003)?

  • Are you a delinquent?

    • Don’t conform to social norms

    • Break laws

    • Dishonest

    • Violent & aggressive

    • Consistent irresponsibility

    • Low agreeableness and conscientiousness


What are the genetic and environmental links
What are the genetic and environmental links?

  • MAOA gene. Encodes the MAOA enzyme which metabolizes neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.

  • Low MAOA activity is associated with elevated aggression.

  • Childhood maltreatment is associated with delinquency in adolescence.


Caspi et al 2002
Caspi et al., (2002).

  • Examined interaction between genetic variation in MAOA gene (low and high activity) and childhood maltreatment on delinquency.

    • MAOA gene was unrelated to delinquency.

    • Boys who had the low activity gene who were severely maltreated committed more delinquent acts in adolescence (violent offenses, antisocial personality disorder).

    • Boys who had high activity gene who were severely maltreated committed no more delinquent acts than boys who were not maltreated.



Why should we care
Why should we care?

  • Because who we are determines what we do….

    • Children who were rated as more conscientious when they were 8 lived longer than their counterparts (Friedman et al., 2003).

    • People who are more conscientious as adolescents experience higher levels of occupational success by age 50 (Judge et al., 1999).

    • People who are more conscientious in college have more children and fewer divorces at age 40 (Roberts & Bogg, 2004).

    • People who are more anxious at age 18 had lower relationship satisfaction across different relationships at age 21 and age 26 (Robins et al., 2002).

    • People who are more creative in college experience higher levels of success in creative occupations 30 years later (Helson, Roberts, & Agronick, 1995).



How much mean level change do personality traits demonstrate across the life course
How much mean-level change do personality traits demonstrate across the life course?

Roberts & Walton (under review)

  • 98 longitudinal studies that tracked mean-level changes in personality traits in 104 different samples.

  • 47,340 participants that ranged in age from 10 to 101.

  • d-scores were used to estimate change.

    • M2-M1/SDp


Meta analytic estimates of change in social vitality
Meta-Analytic Estimates of Change in Social Vitality across the life course?

*

*

Roberts & Walton (under review)


Meta analytic estimates of change in social dominance
Meta-Analytic Estimates of Change in Social Dominance across the life course?

*

*

*

*

Roberts & Walton (under review)


Meta analytic estimates of change in agreeableness
Meta-Analytic Estimates of Change in Agreeableness across the life course?

*

Roberts & Walton (under review)


Meta analytic estimates of change in conscientiousness
Meta-Analytic Estimates of Change in Conscientiousness across the life course?

*

*

*

*

Roberts & Walton (under review)


Meta analytic estimates of change in emotional stability
Meta-Analytic Estimates of Change in Emotional Stability across the life course?

*

*

*

*

Roberts & Walton (under review)


Meta analytic estimates of change in openness to experience
Meta-Analytic Estimates of Change in Openness to Experience across the life course?

*

*

*

Roberts & Walton (under review)



Why should we care about this
Why should we care about this? Course

  • In a follow-up to their earlier work, Friedman et al., found that childhood conscientiousness and adult conscientiousness predicted longevity independent of one another.

  • The changes we experience in adulthood may have significant consequences for our health and well-being.


What causes us to change in adulthood
What causes us to change in adulthood? Course

  • Social Investment Hypothesis:

    • Personality changes arise through experiences in universal tasks of social living, such as establishing one’s social position in society through one’s work or forming long-term bonds through the creation of a family unit in young adulthood (Helson, Kwan, John, & Jones, 2002).


The social investment hypothesis
The Social Investment Hypothesis Course

.25*

Involvement

In work at age 26

Increases in Constraint

From 18 to 26

.18*

Percentage of

Time married

From 43 to 52

Increases in Responsibility

From 43 to 52

.34*

Smoking

Marijuana at

Age 43

Decreases in Responsibility

From 21 to 43


Conclusions
Conclusions Course

  • Personality is an exciting, complex, and dynamic field

    • Behavior genetics

    • Genomics

    • Development

    • Health & Longevity


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