Trait • A characteristic of behavior or a disposition to feel and act as assessed by self-reported inventories or peer reports.
Trait Theories of Personality They believe that we can describe people’s personalities by specifying their main characteristics (traits). Traits like honesty, laziness, ambition, outgoing are thought to be stable over the course of your lives.
Gordon Allport • Founder of the trait perspective • Interview with Freud • What about the conscious mind?
Other Trait Theorists • Hans Eysenck 2 axes; researched biological causes of differences • Raymond Cattell (16 personality factors) – warmth, reasoning, emotional stability, etc.
Gordon Allport • Cardinal Traits: Traits that dominate an individual’s whole life, often to the point that the person becomes known specifically for these traits. People with such personalities often become so known for these traits that their names are often synonymous with these qualities. • Central Traits: These are the general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. These central traits, while not as dominating as cardinal traits, are the major characteristics you might use to describe another person. • Secondary Traits:These are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances.
Factor Analysis • A statistical procedure used to identify different components of your intelligence or personality (depending on the test). • FA takes the answers you give on tests and compiles them into general traits.
The Big Five According to Big Five trait theory: Your traits are stable over time. They can be attributed to your genetics They describe personalities equally well across different cultures They predict other attributes.
The Big Five • Emotional Stability (calm/anxious, secure/insecure, self-satisfied/self-pitying). • Openness (imaginative/practical, variety/routine, independent/conforming) • Extraversion (sociable/retiring, fun-loving/sober, affectionate/reserved). • Conscientiousness (organized/disorganized, careful/careless, disciplined/impulsive). • Agreeableness (soft-hearted/ruthless, trusting/suspicious, helpful/uncooperative).
Correlations with the Big Five:stability, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness Protested injustice - Emotionally stable, open Fell in love at first sight - Extraverted Have not been in therapy - Emotionally stable Been in therapy - Open Not likely to have a lover whose name they forgot - Agreeable Thrown a large party - Extraverted Kept a diary - Open Listen to music by self in dark - Open
Correlations with the Big Five:stability, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness Read fewer than 12 books per year - Extraverted Never cheated on a test - Conscientious Never pulled all-nighter to finish assignment - Conscientious Not likely to become addicted to Internet -Extraverted Dated a person of a different race - Open Written a poem spontaneously - Open Smoke marijuana - Open
Assessing Our Traits • Personality Inventories: a questionnaire where people respond to items attempting to gauge different aspects of their personality Examples of personality inventories: Myers-Briggs (Kiersey Temperament Sorter), 16PF, MMPI, BFI, NEO-FFI)
MMPI Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory: • the most widely used personality test. • Originally used to identify emotional disorders. Now used for screening purposes.
The Person-Situation Controversy • Are traits really stable? Kind Of…. They change according to the situation.
Biological Theories of Personality What % of the variation in a population is attributable to genes? - heritability We are not sure BUT temperaments do seem to be stable from infants to old age.
Somatotype Theory A biological Theory by William Sheldon. Endomorphs (Fat) tend to be friendly and outgoing. Mesomorphs (muscular) tend to be more aggressive. Ectomorphs (thin) tend to be more shy and secretive. Study has not been replicated.