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Personality throughout the Lifespan Michael Hoerger.

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1 Personality throughout the Lifespan Michael Hoerger

2 Pervasiveness of Personality

3 Personality Definitions: A person’s relatively enduring patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings Style of viewing and interacting with the world Often measured with surveys Highly debated in the 1960s and 1970s Interaction of… Individual and situation Genes and environment Conscious and unconscious

4 TraitHighLow Neuroticism (N) Negative mood, irritable, worried Calm, relaxed, even tempered Extraversion (E) Social, assertive, energetic Independent, like being alone Openness to Experience (O) Artistic, liberal, adventurous Conventional, conservative Agreeableness (A) Cooperative, trusting Argumentative, skeptical Conscientiousness (C) Disciplined, hard-working Procrastinating, disorganized




8 Temperament Highly heritable aspects of personality, evident even early in life 1.Rythmicity: predictability of behavior patterns, especially eating and sleeping 2.Emotionality: pleasant or unpleasant, intensity and duration of reactions 3.Activity: energy level 4.Distractibility: ability to ignore distractors 5.Sociability: tendency to approach/ avoid


10 Norms of Reaction Definition: expected pattern of development, given a specific environment Temperament interacts with environmental influences in adaptive or harmful ways

11 Personality Disorders Style of personality that is inflexible, extreme, and causes impaired functioning Examples: Schizotypal: unusual beliefs, socially isolated Dependent: needs a relationship, can’t make own decisions Antisocial Personality Disorder: impulsive, manipulative, aggressive

12 Characteristic Adaptations Personality can be difficult to change, especially for personality disorders Rather than trying to modify traits, often psychologists focus on “characteristic adaptations” or how those traits are used Example for disagreeableness: Criminal who breaks many laws Lawyer who argues and debates

13 Lifespan Perspective Childhood personality influenced by family Niche picking: in adulthood, people choose environments more suitable to their genes People report large changes in personality (though changes tend to be small) Changes tend to be adaptive Early to late adulthood: ↓N, ↓E, ↓O, ↑A, ↑C Criminality tends to decline after age 45

14 Demographic Differences Gender: females score higher than males on N and A Gender convergence: Masculinity and femininity tend to fluctuate with changing family roles; older adults become more androgynous Birth Order: no differences!

15 Personality Correlates Good Health: low Hostility (aspect of A) Achievement: high C Political Views: high levels of education related to liberalism (aspect of O) Psychological Well-being: high E, low N Assertiveness (aspect of E) may be key for reducing stress; involves expressing one’s feelings and needs, while still respecting others

16 Michael Hoerger To cite this lecture: Hoerger, M. (2007, April 11). Personality throughout the Lifespan. Presented at a PSY 220 lecture at Central Michigan University.

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