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Introduction to Personality. Objectives. Following this lecture/reading you should be able to:– Distinguish between personality as a folk concept and scientific construct Understand the status of a personality trait as a hypothetical construct

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objectives
Objectives

Following this lecture/reading you should be able to:–

  • Distinguish between personality as a folk concept and scientific construct
  • Understand the status of a personality trait as a hypothetical construct
  • Describe basic concepts like “trait”, “type”, “personality”
  • Understand the rationale for conducting experiments in personality
reading
Reading
  • Individual Differences Ch. 1
  • Some of the recommended reading: e.g., Matthews & Deary (1998), or Eysenck & Eysenck (1985), Funder (1997)
some formal concepts
Some formal concepts
  • Before we turn to contents of individual differences, lets examine some formal aspects
  • What are “traits”, “types”, “states”
  • What is “personality”?
traits some formal attributes
Traits: Some formal attributes

Identical trait terms in research & everyday life, what are the differences?

quotidian trait term

  • “exists”
  • can be observed in people
  • invented & shaped by culture
  • modified by individual

scientific trait construct

  • a hypothetical construct, an invention of research
  • disposition for behaviour, not the behaviour itself, inferred via indicators.
  • explicitly constructed using scientific methods
  • standardized meaning for all researchers
slide6
Ctnd.
  • used to “explain”
  • what it really is
  • one has, has not a certain trait
  • may be heterogeneous, multidimensional (e.g.shyness)
  • descriptive, sometimes explicative
  • conceptualisation may be useful or not useful, not true or false, usefulness to be demonstrated
  • gradual individual differences on a continuum
  • uni-dimensional, homogeneous
latent and observable variables
Latent and observable variables

anxiety • happiness • shyness

intelligence • conservatism

extraversion • neurotic • creativity

talks quietly • solves a difficult task quickly answers questionnaire item x with “YES” blushes often • votes for liberal candidate

gets quickly bored • laughs often

  • what we infer (latent / hidden)
  • what we see (observable)
personality traits
Personality traits
  • are latent variables/constructs/dispositions
  • we don’t see, but infer them from behaviour

Ann is sociable

  • inferred
  • observed

Ann makes friends easily • initiates talks with strangers • mixes with people and enjoys parties • laughs often • is talkative • prefers talking > reading • many friends

personality traits9
Personality traits
  • are abstractions from behaviour, summarize conveniently a lot of information

sociability

  • inferred
  • observed

making friends easily • initiating talks with strangers • mixing with people • enjoying parties • laughing often • being talkative • prefer talking > reading • many friends

types
Types
  • as segments on descriptive dimensions
    • polar types
    • modal types
  • as groups of people with salient trait combinations
  • as qualitatively different groups
    • everyday psychology
    • historical approach (e.g., Greek temperaments)
types as segments on dimensions
Types as segments on dimensions

(a) polar types

Type A

Type B

(b) modal types

Type A

Type B

Type C

types as trait combinations
Types as trait combinations

Type A

Type B

Type C

types as qualitatively different groups e g the four temperaments

emotional

melancholic

choleric

changeable

unchangeable

phlegmatic

sanguine

non-emotional

Types as qualitatively different groupse.g. the four temperaments
  • Sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic temperament
    • from Greeks, early categories, to Wundt (1903), Eysenck
vertical axis of personality
“Vertical” axis of personality
  • Four levels in the hierarchical organization of personality
    • Specific behaviours (observable)
    • Habits, recurring patterns of behaviour
    • Traits (“factors”): clusters of habits, inferred by covariation of a number of behavioral acts
    • Types (“superfactors”): based upon intercorrelation of traits (2nd order factors)
what is personality
What is “personality”?
  • Many uses in everyday life (see dictionary)
    • Someone is a personality, has got personality, a personality problem, a fearful personality, etc
  • Many uses in psychology (Allport, 40 definitions), e.g.,
    • Personality = temperament & ability (& else)
    • typical (style) <=> maximal behaviour (ability)
  • A construct (totality of reliable inter- & intraindividual differences, their causes and consequences), yet underspecified, but will eventually be resolved by research
research perspectives in personality
Research perspectives in personality
  • Description of variation (trait across individuals
  • Description of covariation (2 or more variables)
  • Psychography

but…

  • pharmacological experiments are said to alter personality traits
  • selective breeding in rat experiments (e.g., more or less aggressive groups)
experiments in personality research
Experiments in personality research
  • Traits are quasi-experimental variables
    • No random assignment to groups
    • we “vary” personality by selecting extreme groups
    • No causal statements allowed
    • But we can test interactions (personality & situation)

but…

  • drugs are said to alter personality traits
  • selective breeding in rat experiments (e.g., more or less aggressive groups)
experiment
Experiment
  • H: Personality moderates effect of arousal on performance
    • extraverts perform better under arousing conditions
    • introverts better under dearousing states
  • Vary experimental independent variable:
    • degree of arousal (e.g., low, medium, high arousing states)
    • assign subjects randomly to the 3 conditions
  • Give questionnaire to measure degree of Extraversion
  • Vary quasi-experimental independent variable
    • extraverts vs. introverts (or: extra-, ambi-, introverts)
    • Assign subjects into groups (based on questionnaire)
slide20

5

4

Extraverts

3

Performance

2

Introverts

1

0

low

medium

high

Ctn.
  • Run experiment using this design
  • Look for interaction in ANOVA
    • Test effects of arousal separately for E & I
slide21

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Yes No

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

___ ___

1

1

1

0

1. Do you usually take the initiative in making new friends?

2. Do ideas run through your head so that you cannot sleep?

3. Are you inclined to keep in the background on social occasions?

4. Do you sometimes laugh at a dirty joke?

5. Are you inclined to be moody?

6. Do you very much like good food?

7. When you get annoyed, do you need someone friendly to talk about it?

8. As a child did you always do as you were told immediately and without grumbling?

9. Do you usually keep "yourself to yourself" except with very close friends?

10. Do you often make up your mind too late?

1

1

1

0

1

0

L = 1

N = 1

E = 3

slide22

30

25

20

Frequency

15

10

5

0

0

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

Test scores

How to form experimental groups?

Mean = 10.0

SD = 3.7

One option:

Introverts (x < Med)

Extraverts(x > Med)

slide23
next week:
    • historic approaches to personality.
to conclude
To conclude:–
  • Traits, types are useful constructs to describe personality
  • Traits are hierarchically organized
  • Questionnaires are one way to assess personality
  • Experimental designs combine the two disciplines of psychology.