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Personality: Dispositional Perspectives


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The purpose of this lecture is to introduce and discuss dispositional perspectives of personality, particularly personality types and personality traits, to consider the personality vs. situation debate and the notion of interactionism.

Published in: Technology, Health & Medicine

Personality: Dispositional Perspectives

  1. 1. Personality: Dispositional Perspectives <ul><li>James Neill </li></ul><ul><li>2008 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Themes & assumptions </li></ul><ul><li>Types </li></ul><ul><li>Traits </li></ul><ul><li>Situation v personality debate </li></ul><ul><li>Interactionism </li></ul><ul><li>Strengths & limitations </li></ul>
  3. 3. 1. Themes & assumptions 1. Stable 2. Individual differences 3. Types vs. traits 4. Personality vs. situation
  4. 4. Personality as stability <ul><li>Emphasises human psychology as a function of consistent actions , thoughts , feelings i.e. unpredictability is an exception </li></ul><ul><ul><li>social psychologists might argue </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Personality as individual differences <ul><li>Assumes that composition of dispositions varies between people . </li></ul><ul><li>Unique combinations of stable dispositions within each person. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Types vs. Traits <ul><li>Types = You are a single “type” (or “shape”) of person – there are different main types and sub-types – but you can only be one type. </li></ul><ul><li>Traits = We each can be described as having varying amounts of several traits (e.g., extraversion, optimism, etc.)‏ </li></ul>
  7. 7. Types vs. Traits <ul><li>Traits are now more in favour than types. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Personality vs. Situation <ul><li>A perennial debate – how much of our behaviour is caused by who were are ( personality ) and how much by the situational influences and demands (norms, culture, etc.)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe they work together and it varies? (i nteractionism )‏ </li></ul>
  9. 9. 2. Personality Types <ul><li>Greek 'excesses' </li></ul><ul><li>Sheldon's somatotypes </li></ul><ul><li>Recent types </li></ul>
  10. 10. Ancient Greek Humors <ul><li>Ancient Greeks (e.g. Hippocrates, Galen) : 4 types of people: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Excess of one of 4 bodily fluids determined personality </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Ancient Greek Humors Irritable Depressed Optimistic Calm
  12. 12. Sheldon's Somatotypes <ul><li>William Sheldon (1940's) classified body type (somatotype): </li></ul>
  13. 13. Personality Types - Somatotypes
  14. 14. Types: Recent <ul><li>Individual differences may be qualitative not quantitative </li></ul><ul><li>Block (1971) identified 5 types. However more recent research suggests 3: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Well-adjusted , resilient, adaptable, flexible, resourceful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over-controlling , maladjusted, uptight </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Under-controlled , maladjusted, impulsive, risky, unsafe </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. 2. Personality Traits
  16. 16. Personality Traits <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Nomothetic vs. Idiographic </li></ul><ul><li>Gordon Allport </li></ul><ul><li>Many trait, single trait, & essential trait approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Needs (Murray) </li></ul><ul><li>Cattell (16 PF) </li></ul><ul><li>Eysenck (3 super-traits) </li></ul><ul><li>The Big 5 </li></ul>
  17. 17. Personality Traits <ul><li>&quot; enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contexts .&quot; (DSM-IV) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Personality Traits <ul><li>Distinguishing qualities or characteristics of a person. </li></ul><ul><li>A readiness to think or act in a similar fashion in response to a variety of different stimuli or situations. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Personality Traits <ul><li>Allport & Odbert (1936) found 17,953 words to describe the way people are psychologically different from each other. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. shy, trustworthy, anxious, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The trait approach tries to formalise and use descriptive traits to explain and predict behaviour. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Nomothetic vs. Idiographic <ul><li>Nomothetic: </li></ul><ul><li>Traits have same psychological meaning in everyone </li></ul><ul><li>People differ only in amount of each trait </li></ul><ul><li>Idiographic: </li></ul><ul><li>Each person has unique psychological structure </li></ul><ul><li>Some traits possessed by only one person </li></ul><ul><li>Traits differ in importance from person to person </li></ul>
  21. 21. Gordon Allport (1897-1967)‏ <ul><li>Believed in consistent individuality and uniqueness </li></ul><ul><li>Morphogenic perspective = blend of nomothetic + idiographic perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Believed in various traits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>individual, common, cardinal, central, secondary, motivational, and stylistic </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. The Many Trait Approach <ul><li>Some theorists look at many traits when investigating personality. </li></ul><ul><li>Examine correlates of different behaviours to understand personality in greater depth. </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Single Trait Approach <ul><li>Much research focuses on a single trait (its origin, nature, and consequences) </li></ul><ul><li>Widely studied traits include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conscientiousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-monitoring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authoritarianism </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Single Trait: e.g. Authoritarianism <ul><li>Widely researched for 50+ years </li></ul><ul><li>Proposed to lie at heart of racial prejudice. </li></ul><ul><li>Unthinking, inflexible, submissive, aggressive, power-fascination, cynical, hostile, may be sexually repressed. </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Essential Trait Approach <ul><li>▼ many traits to essential ones: </li></ul><ul><li>Murray (1938): 27 “needs” </li></ul><ul><li>Cattell (1949): 16 traits </li></ul><ul><li>Eysenck (1960's): 3 supertraits </li></ul><ul><li>Costa & McCrae (1980's): 5 traits </li></ul>
  26. 26. Henry Murray (1893 - 1988)‏ <ul><li>Assumption : behaviour is driven by an internal state of disequilibrium </li></ul><ul><li>Need : internal state of dissatisfaction (desire) ‏ </li></ul>
  27. 27. Murray (1893 - 1988)‏ <ul><li>Primary (viscerogenic) needs: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. food, water, air, sex, avoidance of pain </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secondary (psychogenic) needs ( N = 27): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. achievement, dominance, affiliation, nurturance </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. More recent needs <ul><li>Need for Achievement </li></ul><ul><li>Need for Power </li></ul><ul><li>Need for Affiliation </li></ul><ul><li>Need for Intimacy </li></ul>
  29. 29. Raymond Cattell (1905-1998) <ul><li>Language: Source of info about personality </li></ul><ul><li>4,500 words ► 171 trait names </li></ul><ul><li>Factor analysed self-ratings </li></ul><ul><li>► 16 personality factors (16 PF) </li></ul>
  30. 30. Cattell's 16 Personality Factors <ul><li>Warmth Vigilance </li></ul><ul><li>Reasoning Abstractness </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional Stability Privateness </li></ul><ul><li>Dominance Apprehension </li></ul><ul><li>Liveliness Openness to Change </li></ul><ul><li>Rule-Consciousness Self-Reliance </li></ul><ul><li>Social Boldness Perfectionism </li></ul><ul><li>Sensitivity Tension </li></ul>
  31. 31. Hans Eysenck (1916 -1997)‏ <ul><li>Two supertraits having a biological basis: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Introversion-extraversion </li></ul><ul><li>2. Emotionality-stability (Neuroticism)‏ </li></ul>
  32. 32. Hans Eysenck (1916 -1997)‏ <ul><li>2nd-order FA of 16PF shows two factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Introversion/extraversion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anxiety (Neuroticism) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Psychoticism added later: less researched </li></ul><ul><li>EPQ (Eysenck Personality Questionnaire)‏ </li></ul>
  33. 33. The Big 5 <ul><li>5 superordinate traits well supported by wide variety of research. </li></ul><ul><li>Not everyone agrees on the naming of these traits. </li></ul><ul><li>Commonly measured by “NEO” (Costa & McCrae, 1980s) or IPIP. </li></ul>
  34. 34. The Big 5 <ul><li>The Big 5 according to the “NEO”: </li></ul><ul><li>N euroticism </li></ul><ul><li>E xtraversion </li></ul><ul><li>O penness to Experience </li></ul><ul><li>A greeableness </li></ul><ul><li>C onscientiousness </li></ul><ul><li>Each measured by 6 facets (traits)‏ </li></ul>
  35. 35. Traits: The Big Five Trait Dimension Description Neuroticism Calm versus anxious (Emotional Stability) Secure versus insecure Self-satisfied versus self-pitying Extraversion Sociable versus retiring Fun-loving versus sober Affectionate versus reserved Openness Imaginative versus practical Preference for variety versus preference for routine Independent versus conforming Agreeableness Soft-hearted versus ruthless Trusting versus suspicious Helpful versus uncooperative Conscientiousness Organized versus disorganized Careful versus careless Disciplined versus impulsive
  36. 36. Deliberation Tender-mindedness Values Positive emotion Vulnerability Self-discipline Modesty Ideas Excitement seeking Impulsiveness Achievement striving Compliance Actions Activity Self-consciousness Dutifulness Altruism Feelings Assertiveness Depression Order Straightforward-ness Aesthetics Gregariousness Angry hostility Competence Trust Fantasy Warmth Anxiety C A O E N
  37. 37. Peabody & Goldberg (1989)‏ Costa & McCrae (1985)‏ Digman (1990)‏ Orgatta (1964)‏ Norman (1963)‏ Fiske (1949)‏ 6 (Authors)‏ WORK LOVE INTELLECT POWER AFFECT Conscientious-ness Agreeableness Openness to experience Extraversion Neuroticism Will to achieve Friendly compliance Intellect Extraversion Neuroticism Responsibility Likeability Intelligence Assertiveness Emotionality Conscientious-ness Agreeableness Culture Surgency Emotionality Will to achieve Conformity Inquiring intellect Social adaptability Emotional control 5 4 3 2 1
  38. 38. 6 Factors <ul><li>Personality may be more fully explained by a 6-factor model. </li></ul><ul><li>The extra 6th factor = Honesty-Humility. </li></ul><ul><li>The 6-factor model has been labeled the HEXACO model (Lee & Ashton, 2004). </li></ul>
  39. 39. Trait Stability? <ul><li>Costa et al. (1980):‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Longitudinal study ► correlations > .70 over time for extraversion & neuroticism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Helson et al. (1987; 1993): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women become more dominant, independent, & self-confident over time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Individual differences in stability / consistency </li></ul>
  40. 40. 4. Situation vs. Personality Debate
  41. 41. Situation vs. Personality Debate <ul><li>Sparked by publication of Mischel’s book Personality and Assessment (1968)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Situation </li></ul><ul><li>Personality </li></ul>
  42. 42. Pro-situation <ul><li>1960s/1970s, evidence suggested low correlation between personality and behaviour (i.e. personality coefficient of approx. .20 to .40)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>What use are traits if they explain so little of behaviour? </li></ul><ul><li>Situational variables better predictors? No. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Pro-personality <ul><li>Low correlations do not prove value of situational variables </li></ul><ul><li>Much research on ability of traits to predict behavior based on single act/single time </li></ul><ul><li>People choose situations </li></ul>
  44. 44. 5. Interactionism
  45. 45. Interactionism <ul><li>Traits x [Perceived] Situation = Behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity: different situations affect different people in different ways </li></ul><ul><li>Some situations allow expression of personality, others provoke narrower range of behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Some individuals more consistent </li></ul>
  46. 46. Interactionism <ul><li>Traits do not have a constant influence on behaviour...sometimes trait differences matter a lot, sometimes only a little </li></ul><ul><li>People display traits by choosing situations, not just by reacting to them </li></ul><ul><li>Person-situation debate has lead to more dynamic approach to understanding how personality traits and situations interact to produce a person’s behaviour </li></ul>
  47. 47. 6. Critique of Dispositional Perspectives
  48. 48. Critique of dispositional perspective: For <ul><li>Useful description and assessment of personality </li></ul><ul><li>Have some predictive power </li></ul><ul><li>Although decisions arbitrary, several researchers, using different approaches, coincided in similar views </li></ul><ul><li>Personality traits useful for research purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Allows comparison of individual differences & provides an objective, scientific approach </li></ul>
  49. 49. Critique of dispositional perspective: Against <ul><li>Doesn’t explain how or why personality works </li></ul><ul><li>Poor decisions made on the basis of trait scores? </li></ul><ul><li>Arbitrary decisions about traits </li></ul><ul><li>Behaviour is not always consistent </li></ul><ul><li>Possibly limited predictive ability </li></ul><ul><li>Little explanation for origins of traits </li></ul>