psy3135 personality slides

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Personality What is it? Traits? States? Behavior? Abilities? Interests? Attitudes? All that a person is—past, present, & future?


Personality A person’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting that is consistent across time and situations Relatively enduring underlying dispositions that influence behavior across situations


Personality Esp. interesting variable because contributes to heritability of many behaviors For example, divorce is heritable, but why? 1/3 of h2 of divorce due to personality traits Personality is heritable, personality relates to divorce, making divorce heritable Other behaviors: Crime, violence, altruism, etc.

Current Personality Research: 

Current Personality Research Focus on measurement and quantification of differences among people Diminished focus on person as a whole Focus on constructs rather than persons Trait the fundamental construct unit

Personality Trait Theory: 

Personality Trait Theory Traits—tendencies to behave, think, or feel in certain ways in certain situations collections of similar thoughts, feelings, and behaviors traits are the constructs of personality Traits are dimensional—a structure that recurs in the same qualitative form in different people, but at different quantitative levels (e.g., high or low on a trait)

Analogy of a Trait Dimension: 

Analogy of a Trait Dimension People have different “amounts” or “levels” of a trait Across the composite of the population these different “levels” constitute a “trait dimension” Each person has a specific level of a physical characteristic of height The dimension of Tallness emerges as a population concept

Personality vs. Intelligence: 

Personality vs. Intelligence The domain of Personality focuses on stable non-cognitive differences among people Domains of personality are distinguished from abilities or talents Can also distinguish personality from interests and to some degree from attitudes

Domain of Personality: 

Domain of Personality Temperament Affective (i.e., emotional) differences Reactivity and Expressivity Positive and Negative Emotions Interpersonal Behaviors Closeness vs. Distance Agreeable vs. Hostile/Aggressive

Domain of Personality (cont.): 

Domain of Personality (cont.) Behavioral Inhibition Careful and planful vs. impulsive Conscientious vs. irresponsible Tendency to withhold control behavioral response to emotional state

Is Personality Real? Animal Studies of Personality: 

Is Personality Real? Animal Studies of Personality So in regard to mental qualities, their transmission is manifest in our dogs, horses, and other domestic animals. Besides special tastes and habits, general intelligence, courage, bad and good tempers, etc. are certainly transmitted.

Is Personality Real? Animal Studies of Personality: 

Is Personality Real? Animal Studies of Personality With man we see similar facts in almost every family; and we know through the admirable labours of Mr. Galton that genius, which implies a wonderfully complex combination of higher faculties, tends to be inherited; and on the other hand, it is too certain that insanity and deteriorated mental powers likewise run in the same families. Charles Darwin, 1871

Dog “personalities”: 

Dog “personalities” St. Bernard – gentle, loyal, wise Chesapeake Bay Retriever – bright and happy Irish Setter – happy-go-lucky, strong willed, willing to work Cairn Terrier - merry, hardy, quizzical Toy Poodle – proud, intelligent Welsh Corgi – alert, energetic, quick-footed English Toy Spaniel – perky, of grand disposition Pekingese – independent, dignified, regal, amiable

Four Humors (Hippocrates): 

Four Humors (Hippocrates) Blood – sanguine (hopeful) Black bile – melancholic (sad) Yellow bile – choleric (easily angered) Phlegm – phlegmatic (apathetic)

Major Players: 

Major Players Gordon Allport (1897-1967) believed that personality traits are real, stable, and have a biological basis. Hartshorne and May concluded from their research that personality traits do not exist; situations determine behavior. Walter Mischel (1930- ) propounds the idea that personality traits are merely “convenient fictions; situations determine behavior.

Challenge to Trait Theory: 

Challenge to Trait Theory Hartshorne and May Studying the stability honesty (honest behavior) in children Example behaviors Cheating in classroom Cheating on take-home exam Cheating during a game Stealing money Lying Exaggerating athletic performance

Challenge to Trait Theory: 

Challenge to Trait Theory Average correlation across behaviors was only r = .23 Concluded honesty in any one situation was a poor predictor in any other situation Personality doesn’t exist Situations determine behavior

Person-Situation Debate: 

Person-Situation Debate Mischel’s review (1968) Selective review of studies of stability of personality/behavior There does tend to be consistency in self-reports of personality Found that the correlation between behavior in one situation was behavior in another situation is low—usually less than r = .30

Person-Situation Debate: 

Person-Situation Debate Mischel Traits are not frequently generalizable across situations Traits are impractical as psychological constructs due to low predictive validity “Assumption” of traits Consistency in self-reports of personality because people believe that they and others act consistently

Person-Situation Debate: 

Person-Situation Debate Person X Situation Interaction Mischel proposed a “specificity theory” of behavior Must consider both the person and situation


Interactionism Traits and situations interact to produce behavior The stronger the situational factors the less traits contribute to behavior Restrictive environments restrict behavior If everyone lived in a closet there would be very few differences in behavior Unstructured environments allow for differences among people Compare what people do when they travel alone to a country in which they don’t speak the language


Interactionism Certain situations allow for the expression of certain traits Classroom – extraversion and conscientiousness War – aggression, fearfulness, courage, leadership Jobs – different jobs call on different traits

Consistency of Personality revisited: 

Consistency of Personality revisited Interactionism is fine, but let’s get back to Mischel Is personality/behavior really so inconsistent? Is there another way of looking at the problem?

Situational Specificity : 

Situational Specificity Studies of behavioral consistency almost always correlated a single situation It’s very difficult to predict behavior in any given situation Error variance Factors unique to that situation Very hard to generalize from a single observation of behavior


Aggregation Same issues in measurement of intelligence Any single item is a poor measure of g Error variance Specific variance Weak correlation with other variables How to deal with this problem? Aggregate responses for several items


Aggregation Items are summed to form scales Less error & less specific variance, more general trait variance Scales are summed to form composites Less error & less specific variance, more g variance Can you apply the same concepts to behavior?

Psychometric View: 

Psychometric View Single responses or single behavioral samples do not measure accurately. Each situation is analogous to one item on a test. One item might not predict well, but the entire test score might. Need to measure behavior in a number of different situations.

Predicting Most of the People Much of the Time: 

Predicting Most of the People Much of the Time Epstein Studies of stability in personality/behavior using aggregation Each day for about 1 month people were asked to Record most Pleasant and Unpleasant experience each day 90-item Checklist of emotions 66-item Checklist of response tendencies (impulses) Behavior carried out Situations

Stability of Personality: 

Stability of Personality Items were aggregated to form scales Scale scores were then correlated 1 day: day 1 with day 2 2 day: mean day 1+3 with mean day 2+4 3 day: mean day 1+3+5 with mean day 2+4+6 14 day: mean all odd with mean all even days

Epstein Tables & Figures: 

Epstein Tables & Figures Tables 1 & 2: Pleasant & Unpleasant Emotions Figure 1: Between-subjects reliability Figure 2: Standard deviations Figure 3: Within-subjects reliability Table 3: Most & least reliable participants Figure 4: Reliability of observer ratings Figure 5: Reliability of self-report, other-report, and objective behavior

Single Person Stability: 

Single Person Stability How stable is an individual? How stable is the organization of personality variables for a given individual? How stable is a person’s profile of scores?

Observer Ratings: 

Observer Ratings How stable are observer ratings? Same procedure for behaviors that relate to traits such as sociability and impulsivity

Personality in the Aggregate: 

Personality in the Aggregate Epstein demonstrated that personality is basically a person’s average behavior across time and situations High stability of personality can be found self-reports, observer reports, or objective behaviors IF it is sampled and averaged over a sufficient number of occurrences

Structure of Personality: 

Structure of Personality traits are based on the idea that certain behaviors/thoughts/feelings will covary (correlate or co-occur) Structure: meaningful covariation, i.e, some traits go together, some do not The Structure of Personality is Hierarchical: correlated behaviors/thoughts/feelings traits


Feels betrayed, deceived Feels exploited Feels mistreated Believes others wish to him to fail Feels betrayed, deceived Sees self as target of false rumors Feels unlucky Alienation

Hierarchical Structure of Personality: 

Hierarchical Structure of Personality correlated behaviors/thoughts/feelings traits the different behaviors/thoughts/feelings are different expressions, indicators, or measurements of the same trait or process correlated traits higher-order traits (or factors)


Alienation suspicious,feel others out to get me Stress Reaction tense, nervous, worry, anxious, irritable, break down under stress Aggression hostile, reactive, vindictive,will hurt others to get ahead Negative Emotionality

Hierarchical Structure of Personality: 

Hierarchical Structure of Personality correlated behaviors/thoughts/feelings traits correlated traits higher-order traits Goal: Identify all the Uncorrelated higher-order traits basic structure of personality All lower order traits due to higher-order traits Higher-order traits represent the basic causal processes that underlie trait covariation

Structure of Personality: 

Structure of Personality Once we’ve identified the basic processes we can: organize and describe other constructs in terms of personality explain phenomena make novel predictions General consensus 3 to 5 “super-traits” or general personality factors How do we know?

Lexical Hypothesis: 

Lexical Hypothesis Traits are basically adjectives All important personality variables should be imbedded in the natural language List all the adjective in the dictionary that describe people Have people make ratings on the adjectives Factor analyze the ratings

“Big Five” or Five Factor Model (FFM): 

“Big Five” or Five Factor Model (FFM) Five factors emerge from lexical studies Necessary and sufficient for describing personality at the broadest level Hierarchical structure with these 5 factors on top

The Big Five (spell OCEAN): 

The Big Five (spell OCEAN) Openness – creative, independent, seeks new experiences Conscientiousness – reliable, hardworking, persistent Extroversion – sociable, outgoing, cheerful Agreeableness – cooperative, trusting, conciliatory Neuroticism – nervous, worrying, subject to negative emotions

Critiques of the FFM model: 

Critiques of the FFM model Factors aren’t independent Are really at the top of the hierarchy? Does the structure apply to all languages? What if there are differences? Atheoretical “folk” concepts not scientific constructs What are the mechanisms to trait covariation?

Development of Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ): 

Development of Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) Self-report inventory that attempts to measure all the important trait constructs of personality Provides a general framework (i.e., theory) to reference other constructs

Development of MPQ: 

Development of MPQ Began in 1970’s by Auke Tellegen Trying to develop a scale to measure individual differences in hypnotic susceptibility (Absorption scale) Also includes measures of Extraversion and Neuroticism Undertook iterative rounds of data collection and scale revision

Development of MPQ: 

Development of MPQ Kept identifying new traits Eventually wanted to cover all of normal personality (bandwidth) Try to construct scales that were relatively “pure” measures of their trait construct, e.g., no overlapping items, low correlations among scales (fidelity)

Development of MPQ: 

Development of MPQ Ended up with 11 primary or lower order scales correlations among 11 scales suggest 3 higher-order traits: Positive Emotionality Negative Emotionality Behavioral Constraint

Factor Analysis of Primary Scales: 

Factor Analysis of Primary Scales Scales were constructed to maximize their homogeneity However, an interpretable pattern correlations was still present Therefore, this structure is a discovery of human variation not an artifact of the measurement


Once factors have been identified have to give a psychological interpretation of their meaning

Big 5 and MPQ : 

Big 5 and MPQ MPQ factors are broader constructs than the Big 5 factors Extraversion relates to Communal-PEM Neuroticism to NEM esp. Stress Reaction Conscientiousness to CON & Achievement Agreeableness to Aggression, Alienation, & Social Potency Openness modestly related to Absorption

Validity Scales : 

Validity Scales Unlikely Virtues Index of social desirability, i.e., people try to present themselves an unrealistic favorable way (impression management) Tendency to claim uncommon virtuousness or deny common frailties Some people will endorse some items Should exclude very high scorers Unlikely their other responses are valid

Unlikely Virtues Scale: 

Unlikely Virtues Scale Example items: At times I have been envious of someone. Never in my whole life have I wished for things that I was not entitled to. My opinions are always completely reasonable. At times I have eaten too much. I have always been completely fair to others. I have occasionally felt discouraged about something. I have at times been angry with someone.

Response Inconsistency Indices: 

Response Inconsistency Indices An index of response consistency devoid of any psychological characteristics Detect invalid response patterns True Response Inventory (TRIN) Variable Response Inventory (VRIN)


TRIN “Yea-saying” or “Nay-saying” scale Composed of pairs of correlated items that are keyed in the opposite direction Very high or low scores indicate stereotypic true or false responding


TRIN Example of TRIN item pairs: 1) Most of the time I feel blue. I am happy most of the time. 2) I am usually happier when I am alone. I am happiest when I am with people. 3) When someone hurts me, I try to get even. I would rather turn the other cheek than get even when someone treats me badly.


VRIN Detect random responding Composed of pairs of items that are keyed in the same direction Extremely high scores indicate haphazard responding or lack of understanding


VRIN Example of VRIN item pairs: 1) When someone hurts me, I try to get even. When people insult me, I try to get even. 2) I am quite effective at talking people into things. I am quite good at convincing others to see things my way. 3) I usually do not like be a “follower.” When I work with others I like to take charge.

Heritability of Personality: 

Heritability of Personality Like everything else, personality has a genetic component What about environmental contributions? Most earlier theories of personality (e.g., Freud) implicate early childhood experiences in personality development

A Summary of the Broad Heritability of the Big Five Based on Recent Twin Studies: 

A Summary of the Broad Heritability of the Big Five Based on Recent Twin Studies

Combined Model Fitting by Finkel & McGue - 12 Kinships (N=4,298 pairs): 

Combined Model Fitting by Finkel & McGue - 12 Kinships (N=4,298 pairs) MZ - Males MZ - Females DZ - Males DZ - Females DZ - Opposite Sex Siblings - Males Siblings - Females Siblings - Opposite Sex Father - Sons Father - Daughters Mother - Sons Mother - Daughters

Heritability of Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Scores Based on the Minnesota Twin Family Study - (12 Kinships 4,300 pairs): 

Heritability of Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Scores Based on the Minnesota Twin Family Study - (12 Kinships 4,300 pairs)

Heritability of Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Scores Based on the Minnesota Twin Family Study vs. MISTRA: 

Heritability of Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Scores Based on the Minnesota Twin Family Study vs. MISTRA

Heritability Estimates Based on 12 Kinships (4300 pairs), MZA Twins (74 pairs) and MZT Twins (626 pairs): 

Heritability Estimates Based on 12 Kinships (4300 pairs), MZA Twins (74 pairs) and MZT Twins (626 pairs)

Heritability of Personality: 

Heritability of Personality h2: 30 to 50% c2: 5% or less e2: 50-70%, of which 15-30% is measurement error What if we got rid of measurement error?


Aggression At Time 1 Aggression At Time 2 Stable component Of Aggression Unique to Time 1 Unique to Time 2

Personality & Genetics: 

Personality & Genetics The stable part of personality is mostly due to genetics Environments have effects on personality, but seems to be of limited duration No matter what situation you’re in you always carry your genes Genes are what is constant across time and situations