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Trait Approaches to Personality

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1 Trait Approaches to Personality

2 Lecture contents From cardinal to basic traits
Issue 1: What and where are traits? Issue 2: What use are traits?

3 Traits: The gist Personal (‘internal’) rather than situational (‘external’) Stable rather than transitory (across time) Consistent rather than inconsistent (across ‘similar’ situations) General rather than specific (across ‘different’ situations) Universal dimensions: Individual differences (across people)

4 Manifest, latent, or manifest because latent?
Potential vs. actual Internal vs. interactive Explanation vs. description Behaviours vs. motives, affects, cognitions

5 An early definition “generalized and personalized determining tendencies - consistent and stable modes of an individual’s adjustment to his environment” Allport & Odbert (1936, p. 26)

6 Behavioural traits and individual differences from
Situational preferences Cognitive styles Expressive styles

7 Traits and individual differences attenuated by
Strong situational constraints Trait combinations Trait conflicts Other traits Motives Temporary moods Roles

8 Allport’s non-common traits
Cardinal traits Single defining traits that characterise some, but not all, individuals. Central traits Typically 5-10 traits: “those usually mentioned in careful letters of recommendation … or in brief verbal descriptions of a person” (Allport, 1937). Secondary traits Like central traits but more specific to particular stimuli or particular responses.

9 Cattell’s 16 PF (5th Edition)
A. Warmth Reserved Warm B. Reasoning Low High C. Emotional stability Reactive Calm E. Dominance Deferential Assertive F. Liveliness Quiet Energetic G. Rule consciousness Expedient Dutiful H. Social boldness Shy Socially bold I. Sensitivity Logical Sensitive L. Vigilance Trusting Vigilant M. Abstractness Practical Contemplative N. Privateness Forthright Private O. Apprehension Self-assured Apprehensive Q1. Openness to change Traditional Free thinking Q2. Self-reliance Affiliative Independent Q3. Perfectionism Unexacting Perfectionist Q4. Tension Relaxed Tense



12 Have I read you right? You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

13 The 16PF5 (Global Factors)
Tough-Mindedness/Receptivity Low Self-Control/High Self-Control Introversion/Extraversion Independence/Accommodation Low Anxiety/High Anxiety

14 Hans J. Eysenck’s ‘Big Two’

15 Eysenck’s Extraversion
Sociable Lively Active Assertive Carefree Dominant Surgent Venturesome Sensation-seeking

16 Eysenck’s Neutroticism
Neuroticism Anxious Depressed Tense Irrational Shy Moody Emotional Low self-esteem Guilt- feelings

17 For fun only Answer the following questions using a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much) 1. Do you stop to think things over before doing anything?                                                   2.  Would being in debt worry you? 3.  Do you lock up your house carefully at night? 4.  Would it upset you a lot to see a child or animal suffer? 5.  Do you believe insurance plans are a good idea? Add the scores together.

18 Eysenck’s PEN model

19 Eysenck’s Psychoticism
Aggressive Cold Egocentric Impersonal Impulsive Unempathic Creative Anti-social Tough- minded

20 (P)EN Evaluation E & N result from almost all factor analyses
Measures (e.g., EPQ-R) are generally accepted as psychometrically impressive Each factor score correlates with different biological stuff Genetic contributions to E and N scores Systemmatic mean differences across highs and lows, e.g., Introverts vs. Extraverts I want to know more about: predictive/criterion validity comprehensiveness Utility generally

21 Fundamental Lexical Hypothesis
The ‘Big Five’ “the most important individual differences in human transactions will come to be encoded as single terms in some or all of the world’s languages” (Goldberg, 1990, p. 1216) Single-trait words reveal factors I-V in US, UK, Japan, China, etc

22 The Five-Factor Model (FFM)
Costa & McCrae (1992) Openness (Curious and unconventional) Conscientiousness (Ordered and persistent) Extraversion (Exuberant and sociable) Agreeableness (Caring and considerate) Neuroticism (Emotional and anxious)

23 FFM: Openness to experience
Fantasy Aesthetics Feelings Ideas Actions Values

24 FFM: Conscientiousness
Dutifulness Competence Order Deliberation Self Discipline Achievement Striving

25 FFM: Extraversion Extraversion
Gregariousness Activity level Assertiveness Warmth Excitement Seeking Positive Emotions

26 Straight-forwardness
FFM: Agreeableness Agreeableness Trust Altruism Modesty Compliance Straight-forwardness Tender-mindedness

27 FFM: Neuroticism Neuroticism
Anxiety Depression Vulnerability Impulsiveness Self-consciousness Angry Hostility

28 ‘Consensus’ on 5 ‘basic’ traits
16PF5 Big 5 FFM Tough-Mindedness/Receptivity   Intellect    Openness Low Self-Control/High Self-Control Conscientiousness Conscientiousness Introversion/Extraversion    Surgency    Extraversion Independence/Accommodation Agreeableness    Agreeableness Low Anxiety/High Anxiety    Emotional Stability Neuroticism Remember the two crucial skills of factor analysis: Factor labeling Input variable selection

29 FFM Evidence Cross cultural replication Self-other correlations
using translation Using lexical method Self-other correlations Biological Genetic inheritance Evolutionarily consistent Cross species Neurological Diagnosis Prediction

30 What is being claimed? The claim that the FFM is comprehensive does not mean that it exhaustively measures individual differences in personality, any more than a comprehensive examination asks every single question a student should be able to answer on a topic. What the model hypothesizes is that almost every personality trait is substantially related to one or more of the five factors, and that any remaining traits…form a miscellaneous category rather than covarying to define a sixth or subsequent factor. Costa & McCrae (1995, p. 218, f. 1)

31 Evaluation Description more than explanation. Conceptual fuzziness.
Little prediction or control. Person-situation controversy continues. However, the Five Factor approach does seem well grounded and the best trait taxonomy currently available.


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