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PSY 239 401 Chapter 4 SLIDES

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  • 1. Chapter 4: Personality Traits, Situations, and Behavior The Personality Puzzle Sixth Edition by David C. Funder Slides created by Tera D. Letzring Idaho State University © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1
  • 2. Objectives • Introduce the trait approach to understanding personality • Discuss the person-situation debate • Discuss how personality affects and predicts important life outcomes • Discuss the resolution of the person-situation debate 2 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 3. Think About It • Describe yourself or someone you know well. • What behaviors of this person could be predicted from this description? • Is this person like this in every situation? 3 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 4. Two Points to Keep in Mind 1. This approach is based on empirical research. – Mostly correlational – Emphasis on accurate measurement of traits – Traits should be able to predict behavior. 4 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 5. Two Points to Keep in Mind 2. This approach focuses on individual differences. – Strength: assesses and attempts to understand how people differ – Weakness: neglects aspects of personality common to all people and how each person is unique 5 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 6. The Measurement of Individual Differences • “Every man is in certain respects (a) like all other men, (b) like some other men, (c) like no other man” (Kluckhohn & Murray, 1961, p. 53, as cited in Funder, 2012, p. 108) • Trait approach focuses on the second level • Traits are the building blocks of personality 6 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 7. People Are Inconsistent • Personality traits are not the only factors that control behavior. • Ask yourself: – Do traits exist? – Is everybody basically the same, and behavior changes according to the situation? • Your answers may depend on your age. 7 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 8. The Person-Situation Debate • Which is more important for determining what people do, the person or the situation? • Mischel (1968) • Why this is important 8 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 9. The Person-Situation Debate: Three Issues 1. Does the personality of an individual transcend the immediate situation and provide a consistent guide to his actions, or is what a person does utterly dependent on the situation at that time? 9 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 10. The Person-Situation Debate: Three Issues 2. Are common, ordinary intuitions about people fundamentally flawed or basically correct? 3. Why do psychologists continue to argue about the consistency of personality when the basic empirical questions were settled long ago? 10 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 11. The First Situationist Argument: Predictability • There is an upper limit to how well one can predict what a person will do based on any measurement of that person’s personality, and this upper limit is low. • Mischel looked at relationships of self, informant, and behavioral data to behavioral data • Correlations rarely exceeded .30 (Nisbett says .40) 11 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 12. The Response to the First Situationist Argument: Predictability • Unfair, selective literature review by Mischel – Studies with poor methodology – But some found evidence of consistency 12 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 13. The Response to the First Situationist Argument: Predictability • We can do better. – The .40 limit may be due to poor methodology. – Get out of the laboratory. – Study individual consistency as a moderator variable. – Focus on behavioral trends. – This is difficult to do. 13 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 14. The Response to the First Situationist Argument: Predictability • A correlation of .40 is not small. – Comparison to an absolute standard: number of correct and incorrect predictions • BESD: r = .40 → 70% accuracy – Comparison to a relative standard: how well situations predict behavior 14 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 15. The Second Situationist Argument: Situationism • Situations are more important than personality traits in determining behavior. • Determining how personality affects behavior • Determining how situations affect behavior: – Not legitimate – Could be due to other personality traits – Says nothing about important aspects of the situation 15 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 16. The Second Situationist Argument: Situationism • How the effects of situations on behavior should be determined – Convert statistical significance tests to effect sizes – Funder & Ozer, 1983: situational effect sizes = .36 to .42 16 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 17. The Second Situationist Argument: Situationism 17 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 18. The Second Situationist Argument: Situationism • Conclusion: Both personality and situations are important determinants of behavior. 18 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 19. The Third Situationist Argument: Person Perceptions are Erroneous • The professional practice of personality assessment is a waste of time and everyday intuitions about people are fundamentally flawed. • Responses – The effects of personality on behavior are large enough to be perceived accurately. – The importance of traits is reflected in our language. 19 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 20. Personality and Life • “Personality is important on more than just theoretical grounds” (p. 127). • Personality affects and predicts important life outcomes. • Over time, how a person acts will add up. 20 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 21. 21 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 22. Persons and Situations • “Personality traits are better for describing how people act in general” (p. 129). • Relationships, jobs, and business – Number of friends, level of agreement with them, and the extent to which people have successful and nonabusive relationships – How much people will promote the goals of the organization for which they work – CEOs borrowing money for companies and personal homes 22 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 23. Persons and Situations • Interactionism – Definition – The effect of a personality variable may depend on the situation, or vice versa. – Certain types of people go to or find themselves in different types of situations. – People change the situations that they are in. – Example: Stanford Prison Experiment 23 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 24. Persons and Situations • Persons, situations, and values – Situationism’s view of human nature • People are free to do whatever they want. • Everybody is equal, and differences are a function of the situation. • “If the situation can be all-powerful, then nothing we do is ever really our fault” (p. 132). 24 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 25. Persons and Situations • Persons, situations, and values – Personality’s view of human nature • Behavior is determined by personality. • People can develop consistent identities and styles that allow them to be themselves across situations. 25 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 26. Persons and Situations • Resolution of the person-situation debate – “People maintain their personalities even as they adapt their behavior to particular situations” (p. 133). – People can flexibly adapt to situations and have a generally consistent personal style. • Conclusion: People are psychologically different, and these differences matter. 26 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 27. Think About the Three Issues of the Person-Situation Debate – During the Nuremberg trials after World War II, some participants in wartime atrocities defended themselves by saying they were “only following orders.” Is this the same thing as saying that the situation was so strong that their behavior was not determined by their own personal characteristics, so they should not be blamed? What do you think of this defense? 27 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 28. Think About the Three Issues of the Person-Situation Debate – Sociologists point out that criminal behavior is much more likely from people who come from crime-prone neighborhoods, low economic levels, and unstable family backgrounds. These are all situational factors. Does this fact imply that crime comes from the situation and not from the person? If so, how can we hold a person responsible for criminal actions? – How are these cases similar to and different from each other? 28 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 29. Clicker Question #1 The person-situation debate a)was based on a disagreement about whether the personality coefficient had an upper limit of about .30. b)was a waste of time. c)was based on the finding that people are somewhat inconsistent across time. d)was resolved with the finding that personality is more important than the situation for determining behavior. 29 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 30. Clicker Question #2 Which of the following is true of the trait approach to understanding personality? a) It is based on empirical data. b) It is based on case studies. c)It focuses on how people are similar to each other. d)It proposes that traits are the only things that influence behavior. 30 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • 31. Clicker Question #3 The trait approach proposes that a)personality matters because it affects and predicts important life outcomes. b)personality is important because it has small effects on behavior that add up over time. c)personality is better for explaining how people behave in general than are situations. d)All of the above. 31 © 2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.