Personality Traits Trait Theories Trait a relatively stable predisposition to behave in a certain way




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Personality Traits

Trait Theories

  • Trait

  • a relatively stable predisposition to behave in a certain way

  • a characteristic pattern of behavior

  • a disposition to feel and act, as assessed by self-report inventories and peer reports

  • Goal of trait theories is to specify a set of distinct personality dimensions for use in summarizing fundamental psychological differences

The Trait Perspective

  • Personality Inventory

  • a questionnaire (often with true-false or agree-disagree items) on which people respond to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors

  • used to assess selected personality traits

The Trait Perspective

  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

  • the most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests

  • originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still considered its most appropriate use)

  • now used for many other screening purposes

The Trait Perspective

  • Empirically Derived Test

  • a test developed by testing a pool of items and then selecting those that discriminate between groups

  • such as the MMPI

The Trait Perspective

  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) test profile

Trait Theories

  • Surface traits - linked directly to a set of related behaviors

  • Central traits - fundamental dimensions of personality

Early Trait Theories

  • Cattell’s sixteen source traits

  • Eysenck’s three dimensional theory

  • uses two primary personality factors as axes for describing personality variation

Big-Five Theory

  • Neuroticism-stability

  • Extroversion-introversion

  • Openness to experience-nonopenness

  • Agreeableness-antagonism

  • Conscientiousness-undirectedness

The Big Five

Predictive Value of Traits

  • Stability of personality

  • Relationship to actual behaviors

  • Situation-specific traits

  • do your personality characteristics change depending on the situation?

Biological Foundations
of Traits

  • Level of arousal and motivational systems of extroverts and introverts

  • Moderate heritability of traits

  • Genetic influences on neurotransmitters that can affect personality

Personality as Adaptation

  • Advantages of being different

  • diversity of offspring

  • occupying alternative niches

  • Family environment

  • sibling contrast

  • birth order differences

  • Gender differences

Social-Cognitive Perspective

  • Views behavior as influenced by the interaction between persons and their social context

  • Based on research on learning, cognition, and social influence

  • Focuses on beliefs and habits that increase or decrease people’s ability to take control of their lives and accomplish goals

Social-Cognitive Perspective

  • Locus of Control

  • proposed by Julian Rotter

  • belief that rewards either are or are not controllable by one’s own efforts

  • may be internal or external

  • Personal Control

  • our sense of controlling our environments rather than feeling helpless

  • External Locus of Control

  • the perception that chance or outside forces beyond one’s personal control determine one’s fate

Social-Cognitive Perspective

  • Internal Locus of Control

  • the perception that one controls one’s own fate

  • Learned Helplessness

  • the hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events

Social-Cognitive Perspective

  • Learned Helplessness

Social-Cognitive Perspective

  • Self-Efficacy

  • proposed by Albert Bandura

  • belief about one’s ability to perform specific tasks

  • can be high or low

Social-Cognitive Perspective

  • Reciprocal Determinism

  • the interacting influences between personality and environmental factors

Social-Cognitive Perspective

Social-Cognitive Perspective

  • Positive Psychology

  • the scientific study of optimal human functioning

  • aims to discover and promote conditions that enable individuals and communities to thrive

Exploring the Self

  • Spotlight Effect

  • overestimating others noticing and evaluating our appearance, performance, and blunders

  • Self Esteem

  • one’s feelings of high or low self-worth

  • Self-Serving Bias

  • readiness to perceive oneself favorably

Self-Serving Bias

  • O.J. Simpson

  • Bill Clinton

  • Princess Diana

  • Michael Jordan

  • Mother Teresa

  • Yourself

  • 19% said Yes

  • 52% said Yes

  • 60% said Yes

  • 65% said Yes

  • 79% said Yes

  • 87% said Yes

Exploring the Self

  • Individualism

  • giving priority to one’s own goals over group goals and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications

  • Collectivism

  • giving priority to the goals of one’s group (often one’s extended family or work group) and defining one’s identity accordingly

Exploring the Self


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