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Personality. September 29, 2008. Costa & McCrae. The “Big Five” Extraversion Neuroticism Conscientiousness Agreeableness Openness to experience Is this all there is to personality? Is this all we should be studying?.

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Personality l.jpg

Personality

September 29, 2008


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Costa & McCrae

  • The “Big Five”

    • Extraversion

    • Neuroticism

    • Conscientiousness

    • Agreeableness

    • Openness to experience

  • Is this all there is to personality? Is this all we should be studying?


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  • McAdams and Pals want an “integrative framework for understanding the whole person”

  • Kluckhohn and Murray (1953): every person is like all other persons, like some other persons, and like no other person

    • What does this mean? What areas of personality does this suggest should be studied further?


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  • Problems with personality texts? understanding the whole person”

    • Either theory-by-theory texts

    • Or collection of research topics with no overarching links/conclusions drawn

      • Why is this a problem?

        • Personality is divided up into autonomous spheres that appear to not integrate with each other; study each seperately


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First Some Definitions/Clarification principles” for studying personality in an integrative fashion



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Principle 1 Personality

  • Begin with human nature and how every person is like every other person

  • What 20th century theories attempted to address human nature? How do the authors argue they were flawed?

    • Freud, Rogers/Maslow, Skinner/Bandura

    • All require a “leap of faith;” can’t test them

  • What do McAdams/Pals propose instead?

    • Human evolution

    • Explain…

      • Natural selection for behaviors that allow survival and reproduction; everyone has this general design – core set of dispositional traits

  • What do you think? Are we all fundamentally the same at our core?


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Principle 2 Personality

  • Variations on dispositional traits (Costa and McCrae’s Big Five)

    • Personality traits provide “a rough outline of human individuality”

  • How did some psychologists try to do away with “traits” in the 1970s? (What is the person-situation debate?)

    • Proposed human behavior is more situationally specific (contingent) than cross-situationally consistent (trait-like)

  • What was the outcome of the person-situation debate?


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Principle 2 Personality

  • Traits research stemming from person-situation debate (Traits are here to stay)

  • Traits

    • Often predict behavioral trends across situations and time

    • Show long-term stability in individual differences (for personality traits)

    • Appear heritable (~50% for twins)

    • Are linked to functioning of the brain in new research (ex. extraversion and the behavioral approach system – BAS)

    • Are summarized well by the Big Five model both in repeated English studies and studies in other countries

  • Can you conceptualize personality without traits?


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Principle 3 Personality

  • Humans vary on motivational, social-cognitive, and developmental adaptations (situational variables) – these may effect personality

  • How do you reconcile the debate for roots of human individuality: motivation/cognition or traits?

    • Costa and McCrae’s characteristic adaptation – behavior influenced by both traits and situational variables


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Principle 3 Personality

  • McAdams/Pals disagree

    • Characteristic adaptations aren’t just byproducts of an interaction between traits and environment

    • Characteristic adaptations function differently than traits

      • Traits address: What kind of person is this?

      • C.A.s address: Who is the person? (more existential)


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Principle 4 Personality

  • Individuals differ by their life narratives – integrative stories that give meaning and identity in the world

  • Our lives as ongoing stories – our narrative identity

    • Clinical applications???


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Brief Recap Personality

  • Dispositional traits -> outline of personality

    • Characteristic adaptations -> fill in some details of individuality

      • Narrative identities -> give lives unique, culturally anchored meanings

  • Every person’s like every other person

    • Every person is like some other persons

      • Every person is different from all other persons


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Principle 4 Personality

  • Narrative identity shows how every person is different from every other person. How?

    • Unique life stories

    • Individual differences in narrative identity can’t be reduced to differences in dispositional traits or characteristic adaptations


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Principle 5 Personality

  • Culture’s effects on different levels of personality

    • What are its effects on:

      • Traits

      • Characteristic adaptations

      • Individual narratives

    • Let’s examine each


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Principle 5 – Culture/Traits Personality

  • McAdams/Pals state that environment subtly influences traits. What two supporting evidences do they provide?

    • Even if ~50% of traits are accounted for by genetic heritability, there’s still an interplay between environment and genetics that shapes trait expression throughout development

    • Cultural forces likely shape phenotypic expression of traits

      • An example from the article, or another that you can think of???


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Principle 5 – Culture/C.A.s Personality

  • How do McAdams/Pals explain culture’s effect on characteristic adaptation?

    • C.A.s are situated in social, cultural, and developmental contexts; C.A.s are shaped by social class, ethnicity, gender, historical events

      • Goals based on life trajectories society makes available to the individual

      • Values based on ideals passed down through families

      • Other examples???


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Principle 5 – Culture/Narritive Identity Personality

  • How do McAdams/Pals explain culture’s effect on narrative identity?

    • Culture provides themes/images/plots for psychosocial construction of narrative identity

    • Life stories are at the center of culture



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Why Personality in a Psychopathology Class? Personality

  • What do you think?

  • Clinical applications

    • Framework proposed by McAdams/Pals may be used to identify aspects of personality for change in treatment

    • Therapy exerts changes in personality – if you’re gonna mess with it, you need to know the mechanics of what’s “under the hood”

    • Narrative therapy approaches to treatment

    • Conceptualize psychopathology in respect to different levels of personality

      • Ex. Depression

        • Trait-like expressions of depression

        • Characteristic adaptation: thoughts/motivation pertaining to certain social roles and/or developmental periods

        • Depressed life story, perhaps themes of loss


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