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					Personality and Individual Differences: History and background
Theories Approaches Applications
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Aims & Objectives
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Aims: To give an overview of the main approaches and applications of the study of personality. Objectives: At the end of this orientation you should be able to discuss the ways in which trait approaches to personality fit alongside some alternative approaches to individual differences.
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Theories

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Theories
1. 2. 3.

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Psycho-analytic Social Traits Interactionism

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1. Psychoanalytic approaches
• Psychoanalytic technique • Influence of early childhood experience on personality • Centrality of unconscious motivations • Defense mechanisms: – Repression – Regression – Sublimation
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Psychoanalytic approaches
• Drives/instincts – sexual/aggressive • Id: pleasure principle • Ego: reality principle • Superego: conscience or morality
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Psychoanalytic methods
• • • • • Free association Hypnosis Dream analysis Transference Projective tests

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Psychoanalytic stages
• Oral (up to 1 year) • Anal (2-3 years) • Oedipal / phallic (4-6 years)

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2. Social theories of personality
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Most personality theories examine the actor. Constructionists take into account two other perspectives:
i) the observer, and ii) the self observations of the actor

• Where does personality reside?
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Social theories of personality
 form associations between different behaviors We
These associations form implicit personalities Personality is constructed by people as they meet and interact (Hampson, 1988) People vary in terms of – what they display (explicit personality) – what others perceive (implicit personality), and – what they think of themselves (self-perception)

Personality therefore is simply a social artifact
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3. The Act Frequency approach - Buss and Craik (1984)
Traits are not stable Identifying traits is a process of labeling rather than explaining
For example:
If I were to describe someone as „neurotic‟ = this person was labeled neurotic more often than comparable others
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Expectancy effects
Observers can moderate and influence the „personality‟ of the actor as follows:
I am told that John is an extravert When I meet John I ask him questions relating to extrovert activities I categorize John‟s responses as typically „extrovert‟ I treat John as if he was an extrovert John takes this on board and feels more extraverted
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Lab studies support this model (Fazio et al 1981)
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What is a trait
• • • • Stable over time Affects behavior Cross situational consistency Internality – attributable to the person (biological basis) • Inter-individual differences • Minimum overlap
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Hierarchies of behaviors and Traits
Neuroticism DOMAINS FACETS
Anxiety Anger Depression Impulsivity

Self-consciousness
Vulnerability

BEHAVIORS
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4. Interactionism
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Mischel‟s (1968 and onwards) critique of trait approach. B = f(P X S)
“ If.. If.. Then” statements (Shoda , Mischel & Wright, 1994).

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Situational specificity.
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Approaches

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Factor Analysis
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Sets of statistical procedures to identify factors or linear groups of variables that measure the same construct Used to group behaviors/adjectives into facets and facets in domains
– Items (adjectives) or questions about behaviors

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A factor does not mean dimensionality
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Factor analysis: behaviors to facets
Anxiety Anger

I am a worrier
I often feel tense and guttery I Frightening thoughts sometimes come Into my head
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I often get angry at the way people treat me

I am a an even tempered person

At times I have felt bitter and resentful
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Personality & Individual Differences - History & Background

Cross-cultural
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Are dispositions culturally universal? Individual vs. Collectivist
“Squeaky wheels and the nail that stands out”

Threats to validity Cultural universals (gendered traits) Experiencing and expressing
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Experimental & Correlational Traditions
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Two approaches (Eysenck, originally Cattell)
– Experimental
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Ignore individual differences

– Correlational
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– Random allocation accounts for this

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Integration
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Explore the relationship between traits and behaviors

– Individual differences interact meaningfully with experimental manipulations
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Iowa Gambling Task Anxiety with attention and memory Monitoring and blunting and provision of information
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Applications

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Domains of Application
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Occupational
Health

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Forensic

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Occupational and Health
Occupational  Selecting individuals or job, training and education  Profiles of academic, personality and intellectual traits  Equal opportunities, cultural fairness  Issues of age, sex, disability discrimination
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Health  Predict health outcomes – physical and psychological  Biological, behavioral and social mediators of health outcomes  Relationship to traditional predictors of health  Use as a diagnostic preventative tool
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Forensic
Forensic mental health & sentencing  Identifying personality types and traits associated with risk  Matching treatment to individuals  Notions of treatability  Issues of sentencing and rehabilitation
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Have A Nice Day

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