The vast number of words in our language that are devoted to describing traitsshows just how important we find labeling to be. Observing behavior allows us to label internal constructs, or traits as they are called in the study of personality.
We might think of traits as what composes, or makes up, a personality.
theEysenck’s developed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire which has been taken by people in 35 different countries including China, Uganda, and Russia. Through factor analysis, they found that extraversion-introversion and emotional stability-instability consistently emerged as personality dimensions. From this, we get the Eysenck “map” of traits. So, consider the characters on Family Guy. Where would Lois be? What about Meg? And Brian? Stewie? Peter? And Chris?How does our
How would you account for someone’s willingness to try new foods versus keeping the same routine every day on the Eysenck map? What about how organized or impulsive a person is?Many researchers now believe that Eysenck’s dimensions are important but are not sufficient to describe the basic dimensions of personality. What has emerged after testing in 29 languages across 56 countries is...The Big 5.
Conscientiousness describes socially prescribed impulse control that facilitates task and goal-directed behavior, such as thinking before acting, delaying gratification, following norms and rules, and planning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks.This increases most during people’s 20’s and people high in C. earn better grades.
Agreeableness contrasts a prosocial and communal orientation toward others with antagonism and includes traits such as altruism, tender-mindedness, trust, and modesty.This increases most during people’s 30’s and continues to increase through their 60’s.
Neuroticism contrasts emotional stability and even-temperedness with negative emotionality, such as feeling anxious, nervous, sad, and tense.Emotional instability along with extraversion and openness wane a bit during early and middle adulthood.
Openness to experience (versus closed-mindedness) describes the breadth, depth, originality, and complexity of an individual’s mental and experiential life.
Extraversion implies an energetic approach to the social and material world and includes traits such as sociability, activity, assertiveness, and positive emotionality.Night owls are more likely to be extraverts while morning people are more likely to be high in C.
Data from long-term studies shows that scores on personality inventories are positively correlated after 7 years. This means that the personality inventories showed similar results. Also, as people grow older their personality stabilizes. Also, expressive style, that is, how people speak, gesture, and engage displays consistency. So, while traits may not predict behavior in specific scenarios, there are useful is describing average behavior and expression.
Extraverts normally have low levels of arousal so they seek excitement and other people to raise their level of arousal. Introverts or anxious people are thought to have higher baseline levels of arousal so when they are exposed to more stimuli their system gets overloaded and they experience anxiety. They already exist in a state of heightened arousal relative to extraverts.
Social-cognitive theorists believe that we learn many behaviors either through conditioning (remember classical and operant) or by observing others and modeling our behavior (this is the “social” part of the perspective). They also emphasize the importance of mental processes, what we think about our situations affects our behavior (that is the “cognitive” part.
This is a very important concept for you all to understand. It is a way of approaching personality that takes into consideration the environment and the person. It doesn’t assume that people grow up in a vacuum, under a rock, or a complete void. It acknowledges that we all grow up in a varied and diverse environment that impacts how we develop our personality as well as our ideas about control.
Choose environment:You may like athletics and so choose to attend sporting events. Or, you may like to read so you visitlibraries or bookstores. You choose an environmentand it helps shape you (becoming more outgoing at a rowdy event or reading about something newwhich leads to you trying new things therefore increasing your openness.
Internal locus-tendency toward feeling and thus being more in charge of one’s life ranging from health to spending habits. An internal locus of control is generally associated with more positive outcomes. People with internal locus of control tend to complete their college degree in a more timely manner. Those with internal locus of control at age 10 had a reduced risk of obesity at age 30 compared to hose with an external locus of control.....but can you think of an example where it could be a disadvantage? What about surviving a catastrophic event and always feeling like you should have/could have done something more to help others?
I’d imagine that all of you recognize these faces or at least one or two of them. Pictured above is Ted Bundy. Hannibal Lecter, CharlizeTheron as Aileen Wournos, and Charles Manson. Psychopathy can be thought of as an extreme version of the personality disorder Antisocial Personality Disorder. A cluster of traits emerge in this disorder such as: lack of empathy, lack of remorse or guilt, disregard for other’s lives and property, andan incredible ability to manipulate, flatter, and charm. When I say what if your life depended on it, I’m referring to these peoples’ lives not yours. If you enter the criminal justice system and take a psychopathy assessment, which is a form of a personality assessment, and score above a certain number, you will never be released from prison or have the opportunity for parole. Your score on this assessment can be used to keep you permanently incarcerated.
People who feel good about themselves have fewer sleepless nights, succumb less easily to pressure to conform, are more persistent at difficult tasks, are less anxious and lonely. These people are just generally happier. Psychologists disagree on how protective self-esteem can be. For example, children’s academic self-concept, their confidence that they can do well in school, predicts school achievement. However the general self-image does not. So, does higher self-esteem come from doing well or does doing well lead to higher self-esteem? The effects of low self-esteem have been studied and lower self-esteem can lead to people viewing themselves and others more critically. Also referred to as the cult of self-esteem, there has been a general push to increase kids’ self-esteem regardless of their achievements. This leads to unrealistic expectations, what happens when you get into the real world,
and what about that self serving bias? Have you ever heard someone say “what have I done to deserve this?” in reference to a huge success?Three in four owners believe their pets are smarter than average.
Also referred to as the cult of self-esteem, there has been a general push to increase kids’ self-esteem regardless of their achievements. This leads to unrealistic expectations and what happens when you get into the real world? Narcissim basically means an inflated sense of self but also entails a more fragile sense of self. So, you may say that you’re the greatest thing ever, but you are especially vulnerable to criticism. If you’re parents constantly praised your every effort and never prepared you for criticism or failure, you do not develop any coping skills or a firm self of self-esteem.
General psych trait lecture final version
Write down some characteristics of your friends in one column.
Write down some characteristics of your (fr)enemies next to those.
There are literally thousands of these “characteristic” adjectives
like the ones that you’ve listed.
The vast number of terms=importance of labeling/describing
Observing behavior Label/describe traits
What is a trait?
An individual’s unique constellation of
durable dispositions and consistent ways of behaving
(traits) constitutes his or her personality.
• Habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion.
• Stable and enduring over time.
• Qualities and characteristics that shape a person's
unique character and identity.
Each personality is uniquely made up of multiple traits.
The study of trait psychology really began with
Allport’s main concern was how to describe personality
traits rather than how to explain them.
Allport & Odbert (1936), identified almost 18,000 words
Through factor analysis, a statistical approach used to describe and relate personality traits,
Hans and Sybil Eysenck suggested that personality could be reduced down to
two polar dimensions, extraversion-introversion and emotional stability-instability.
Can personality traits be essentially reduced to two dimensions?
What do you think?
Current researchers say no. The Big 5 is a more accurate
and comprehensive representation of trait dimensions.
The Big 5 Personality Factors:
(Emotional stability vs. instability)
Able to handle stress
Preference for Variety
Preference for Routine
(Introversion to Extraversion)
Enjoy time alone Reserved
Feel drained after
Questions about the Big Five
These traits are common across
cultures.3. How about other cultures?
Fifty percent or so for each
trait.2. How heritable are they?
Quite stable in adulthood.
However, they change over
1. How stable are these traits?
Evaluating the Trait Perspective
The Person-Situation Controversy:
How consistent are personality traits over time and across
What do you think? Is an extravert always talkative and socially outgoing?
What about in a courtroom?
Traits themselves are enduring across time but are not good predictors of behavior.
As Walter Mischel (1968, 1984, 2004) points out, traits may be enduring,
but the resulting behavior in various situations is different.
Traits are not good predictors of behavior!
However, trait theorists argue
that behaviors from a
situation may be different,
but average behavior
remains the same. Traits are also
socially significant, and influence
our health, thinking, and
performance (Gosling et al.,
2000). Also, expressive styles in
speaking and gestures demonstrate
Therefore, traits matter.
Biology and Personality
Personality dimensions are influenced by genes.
1. Brain-imaging procedures show that extraverts seek
stimulation because their normal brain arousal is
2. Genes also influence our temperament and behavioral
style. Differences in children’s shyness and inhibition
may be attributed to autonomic nervous system
This perspective was developed
by Albert Bandura and
emphasizes the interaction
of our traits with our
situations. So personality
is the result of an
interaction between a person
and their social context.
Social-how we learn our behaviors (modeling, conditioning)
Cognitive-what we think about situations which affects our behavior
There are two major components to this perspective:
Reciprocal Determinism-the person-environment interaction.
The is an interactive process in which personality influences
and is influenced by the environment.
Personal Control-whether we learn to see ourselves as controlling
or controlled by our environment.
How we view and treat people
influences how they treat us.
Our personalities shape situations.
Anxious people react to
situations differently than
Our personalities shape how we
react to events.
The school you attend and the
music you listen to are partly
based on your dispositions.
Different people choose different
These are specific ways in which individuals and
Our personalities shape situations.
Our personalities shape how we
react to events.
Different people choose different
Our personality may actually affect our environment.
If you are low on agreeableness and assume everyone
is an adversary, you might be hostile toward them
which then leads them to be hostile toward you.
Some people choose to attend sporting events,
go to the opera, attend book readings, go to the
movie theater, listen to techno, metal, or rock.
Some people are more anxious and perceive
the world as threatening. Some individuals are less
agreeable and so perceive the world as antagonistic.
Behavior emerges from an interplay of external
and internal influences.
External locus of control refers to the perception
that outside forces beyond your control
determine your future (luck, fate, or chance).
Internal locus of control refers to the perception that
we can control our own future (the responsibility for
success is internal).
Personal Control-whether we control the
environment or the environment controls us.
Why does locus of control matter?
External Locus-survivors of catastrophic events may be able
to process and move beyond the event
Internal Locus-timely completion of degree, reduced risk
of obesity at age 30, better credit scores, better
able to delay gratification
What can we learn from marshmallows?
When unable to avoid repeated adverse events
an animal or human learns helplessness.
Evaluating the Social-Cognitive
Cons: It pays a lot of attention to the situation and
less attention to the individual, his unconscious
mind, his emotions, and his genetics.
Pros: It sensitizes researchers to the effects of situations
on and by individuals, it builds on learning and
cognition research, and it puts the person in the context
of their environment.
Assessing Behavior in Situations
Social-cognitive psychologists observe people in
realistic and simulated situations because they find
that the best way to predict behavior in a given
situation is to observe that person’s behavior in
This is also time consuming and costly. Often traits
will be assessed with written instruments, or
Personality inventories are questionnaires (often with true-
false or agree-disagree items) designed to gauge a wide range
of feelings and behaviors assessing several traits at once.
One example of a personality is the MMPI.
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is
the most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests.
It was originally developed to identify emotional disorders.
It is an objective test but does that mean it’s valid?
What if an individual is trying to look good for a job opening?
Or, what if they are trying to “fake bad” to get some kind of
compensation for emotional damages?
And why should I care about a personality inventory?
Want a job?
Often places of business will ask employees to take a
personality inventory for job placement. One example is
the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which was once the most
common personality inventory given in the business sector.
Feeling Depressed or Anxious?
The MMPI can be used to help the determine the presence
of depression, anxiety, or other psychopathology.
But what if your life depended on it?
The Hare Psychopathy Checklist
Clearance for some forms of surgery
(bariatric, spinal, sexual reassignment surgery) will require
a psychological evaluation which includes the
MMPI to determine your mental stability.
So why should you care? Because it could potentially impact the rest of your lif
Exploring the Self
Think of the “self” as organizing your thinking,
feelings, and actions. It is a critical part of our
1. Research focuses on the different selves we
possess. Some we dream and others we dread
which can serve to motivate us.
2. Research studies how we overestimate our
concern that others evaluate our appearance,
performance, and blunders. This is called the
spotlight effect, or the world revolves around me
What is Self-Esteem?
Most basically it is the feeling of self-worth.
Much to do about self esteem:
Is it really the “armor” that protects kids from
the hardships in life?
Can you have too much self-esteem?
A related concept is self-serving bias.
The self-serving bias is defined as
our readiness to perceive ourselves favorably.
(Think of it as a mechanism used to protect and enhance self-esteem.)
• People accept more responsibility for good deeds than bad, and more
credit for successes than failures.
• Most people see themselves as better than average. (And their pets are too!)
• We are quick to believe flattering descriptions of ourselves and reject
• We see ourselves as making better than average contributions to our groups
• A tendency to blame others (including your significant other) in
Now back to that question of high self esteem: Can you have too much?
Yes, yes you can have too much self-esteem.
• Those with high self-esteem can become potentially dangerous
if their esteem is threatened or criticized, especially those with
unrealistically high self-esteem.
• Today’s generation, Generation Me (Twenge, 2006) expresses more
narcissism than past generations.
• Consider that what appears to be a put-down, “Nobody likes me,” may
be a covert attempt at reassurance, “That’s silly, everybody likes you.”
A quick review of a few things we’ve covered...
Can you tell anything about
Generally, yes. People who
listen to jazz, classical,
blues, and folk music tend
to be open to experience
and verbally intelligent.
If I tell you I listen to...
If I tell you I listen to...
People who listen to pop, religious,
or country music tend to be
outgoing, cheerful, and
That I have a Facebook account
and update my status every hour. OMG!!!!!
And I LOVE to tweet like every 10 minutes
about like everything hilarious that happens to me.
And I have a really super amazing cool blog :D
and I write all about my long day at school :-(
and my boring job o(>< )o ｏ( ><)o
and the amazing party ^_^ I’m going to later...
Visitors to personal websites quickly pick up on one’s
extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.
And what if I tell you....
Are you telling me that I can predict
someone’s personality and how they
will behave based on a CD
or their iTunes library?
No. Remember the social-cognitive perspective
that tells us that personality, and in turn behavior, is
the result of an interaction between a person
and their social context.
Also, when we talk about correlations and
personality traits, we’re talking about general
trends in the population and not specific
(Think about the discussion on intelligence.)