Introduction to Personality Theory Personality- underlying causes within the person of individual behavior and experience. Description-ways in which we should characterize a person- compare traits between people or study an individual in depth? Dynamics- how do people change and adjust to life situations? Influences of culture, thought processes Development – biological factors vs. experiences; variable influences of early experiences vs. later experiences; potential for change later in life Concepts for describing personality Differences between people- individual differences indicate how much people differ from one another; how do we classify them- into groups (type approach) or by gradations of dimensions (trait approach) – quantitative measures. Types- suggests that personality comes in a number of distinct categories (qualitative groups). Personality types are categories of people with similar characteristics. Eysenck’s types, enneagram, Myers- Briggs Personality types Traits- characteristics that vary from one person to the next & presumably cause behavior. They demand quantitative assessment- scoring a trait from one extreme to the opposite: introversion vs. extroversion. A trait is a more focused set of characteristics. A person can be assessed on every trait. Factors- are broader than traits, quantitative, but combine like traits into groups. Fewer factors describe people. ( Big Five Factors) Comparing people or studying individuals Nomothetic approach- groups of people are studied by comparing their trait/ factor scores and relating them to specific behaviors or background experiences. People are complex, however, and these studies are somewhat simplistic, so not always helpful in understanding human behavior. Also many of these studies are done on college students who aren’t particularly representative of the population as a whole. Idiographic approach- studies an individual one at a time without comparing them to others. The challenge is to understand the uniqueness of a person, within the influence of a culture, family, and regarding universal principles of behavior. Personality dynamics- how personality is expressed, motivations, behaviors, attitudes. Different theories emphasize different reasons for behavior- Freud/ unconscious sexual drives, Jung/ archetypal trends, Rogers/ drive toward self-actualization, Murray/ multiple motivations, Maslow/ progression of need states. Dynamics includes: Adaptation-a person’s way of coping, adjusting to demands & opportunities life offers. Cognitive processes- how we think, what beliefs we have developed over time, labels for ourselves & others, expectations for the future. Culture – different cultures place different expectations on members. Individualistic cultures stress competition and personal striving for success. Communal cultures stress harmony, aiding the group, deemphasizing personal uniqueness. Cultures mold different personality types through reinforcement and expectations. Personality development- what causes changes in personality over time? Is it subject to direct influence or manipulation? Biological influences – temperament refers to consistent styles of behavior and emotional reactions present from infancy. They are presumed to have strong biological (genetic) substrates. (Kagan) Life experiences- early vs. late – is early life experience more permanently affecting of personality than later life experiences? Effects of types of attachment on later relationship successes. Effects of life trauma. Scientific method- is rigorous systematic observation in search of evidence to support a theory or hypothesis. Determinism is the idea that things, behaviors have causes & these causes can be determined by research. Example: high self-esteem causes social responsibility. The thesis can be worded in the opposite format: social responsibility relates to high self- esteem. To test this correlation, we must have some behaviors that can be measured, are observable. There must be measures of social responsibility. Tests may then be designed to show predictive value if these 2 are correlated. Theory – is an overarching belief system that includes concepts (constructs) & relationships between those concepts (propositions.) Constructs- concepts of a theory (personality trait is a construct. They are assumed to be stable and determine behavior, producing consistency across situations.) Operational definitions- statements that identify what are observable evidences of a trait. A trait is self-esteem- observed by talking about successes rather than failures, dressing nicely, not slovenly. Theoretical propositions- describe how the constructs are related. They are abstract statements, not directly observable. To test a theory, the propositions must be tested: Frustration leads to aggression. Hypothesis- a statement of a proposition in terms of observable phenomena. A working premise for experimentation/ observation. Empirical observation- the testing of observable phenomena used to validate or disprove a hypothesis. Criteria of a good theory- theories are always abstract, but may be supported by facts determined by testing. Theories do not become facts. Verifiability- theory should be testable by empirical/ observational methods. Constructs must be defined precisely so others could replicate the test. There are many ways to observe behavior. Disconfirmation of a thesis is still useful, telling scientists what is not useful to study and shifting the emphasis of science to more fruitful directions. Comprehensiveness – a theory should explain a range of behaviors to be useful. If a theory is too broad, however, it becomes useless for prediction. Applied value – theory that offers practical strategies for improving human life, rather than just satisfying intellectual curiosity. Applied research is done to solve practical problems. Basic research is to advance theory/ knowledge. Parsimony means a theory is as simple as possible to explain the concept studied. Heuristic value means a theory suggests new directions for study- fertility. Scientists build on the earlier work of scientists to improve understanding. Relationship between theory and research Theory leads to research. Research without adequate theory wanders aimlessly, proving little of worth. Research leads to theory. Theory without adequate research becomes stagnant. Implicit theories of personality are common, unscientific beliefs about personality that people hold. Assuming that beautiful people are also smart, warm, trustworthy, etc. – the halo effect. Methods in personality research Personality measurement- the most common personality measurement is the self-report personality test. 1) Reliability is consistency of scoring over time by an instrument. Test-retest reliability consists of testing a group of people on an instrument over time to see if scores are similar. Alternative forms reliability retests a group over time with alternative forms of the test to avoid test skill enhancement with practice. Split-half reliability is testing the reliability of a test by comparing the even answers to the odd answers. Short vs. long tests- short tests are less reliable than longer ones. Homogeneous items vs. heterogeneous items- tests using more similar items are more reliable than tests using very different items. 2) Validity is assessing whether a test really measures what it says it does. Predictive validity is determined if a test actually predicts a behavior accurately: SATs predict college success (somewhat); tests for employment success (Seligman for MET Life sales success- optimism) Construct validity – is the test actually measuring the designated characteristic. A new depression inventory should show similar scores of depression as the gold standard- the Beck Depression Inventory. 3) Measurement techniques a) Direct self-report measures- useful but people don’t always know how they are or think, and they give false answers to please researcher or be socially acceptable (particularly re: sexual behaviors, beliefs.) Multiple-choice format Questionnaires – measure one trait Inventories (MMPI) – measure several traits b) Indirect methods are less clear in what is being assessed, hopefully to avoid subjects deliberately shaping a response. Open-ended questions Journals, diaries, letters Projective tests (Rorschach tests, TAT) c) Behavioral measures (self-report about laboratory or life experiences) can still be distorted by subjects. Correlational methods examine 2 or more variables to see how they relate. What cannot be determined is causation. Experimental research is the only format that can determine cause and effect. Independent variable is the suspected cause, manipulated by the researcher. Control group is similar to the experimental group, but not exposed to the independent variable. Experimental group is exposed to the independent variable. Dependent variable is the suspected effect, measured at the end of the study by the researcher, and statistically analyzed for significance. Other variables – other variables can confound the results if not anticipated and controlled for. Studying individuals- Case studies/ psychobiography Case study is an in-depth study of an individual psychologically. Psychobiography is the study of a person from a theoretical standpoint, using archival information, not just self-report. Letters, books, interviews, assessments of other people in the person’s life. May be retrospective, and so flawed or shaped by the researcher’s thesis. (Viewers attributing feminist issues to Georgia O’Keefe’s works, when she said that was not her intention at all.) Eclecticism is combining insights and references from several theories. No one theory explains everything satisfactorily. Paradigm is a basic theoretical model, shared by various theorists. When the preponderance of new research flies in the face of the traditional paradigm, the paradigm will shift, having become obsolete. Because we have various theoretical orientations, they test concepts in varying ways to find the truth within the concept. Two disciplines of psychology: Scientific culture vs. Humanistic culture Scientific culture emphasizes experimentation, groups of people. Humanistic culture emphasizes individuals, aspects of personhood that is not subject to experimental rigor. Some theories have different usefulness in different areas of study. Some are better at explaining mental illness, or creativity, adjustment, or learning. Some apply better to males than females, or vice versa.