Psy 161 Exam 1

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individual differences in dispositions

consistency in behavior and across situations
within a person

“Personality is a dynamic organization, inside the person, of psychophysical systems that create the person’s characteristic patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings” (Allport)


Social psychology

“The scientific attempt to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings, & behaviors of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.” (Allport)

“The scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another” (Myers)

generally focus on individuals within a group



how people respond to situations
some situationalism relies on your personality


hindsight bias

the tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one's ability to have foreseen it

the "I-knew-it-all-along" phenomenom


traits and types

summarize people's observable behavioral tendencies

behavioral tendencies (smiling) might display an underlying trait (friendliness)

"what" of behavior


needs and motives

summarize people's underlying motivations for behavior

"why" of behavior


typological theories

discrete categories to divide people

Galens Humors, Sheldon's somatotypes


Hippocrates' 4 humors

types of fluids named in 400 BC
blood, Black Bile, Yellow Bile, Phlegm
adapted by Gelen as a theory of temperment


Galen's humors

excess fluids determine temperament (Galen's humor theory of temperament- typological theory)

humors should be balanced, and if they are not balanced it affects your personality

Sanguine (excess blood): warrior, brave, forceful, direct, courageous

Melancholic (excess black bile): moody, withdrawn

Choleric (excess yellow bile): irritable, bitter, resentful

Phlegmatic (excess phlegm): weak, fragile, indecisive


Sheldon's somatotypes

typological theory that your personality is determined by your body structure

endomorph- soft, round (overweight) body, loves comfort, sociable, tolerant, relaxed

mesomorph- hard, muscular body, bold, assertive, action oriented, courageous

ectomorph- frail, lanky, thin, delicate, restrained, mentally intense, introverted


main problem with 'Type' Approaches

since many dispositions are normally distributed, classifying people as "types" loses information (most people have varying degrees of the "types")


trait theories

continuous dimensions (can be high, low, or in the middle on a particular trait)

The big five


Allport's definition of a "Trait"

a generalized neuropsychic system having the capacity to render many stimuli functionally equivalent, and to initiate & guide meaningfully consistent forms of adaptive & expressive behavior

Two important aspects of Allport’s definition

1) Traits are real things that actually exist in your nervous system (biologically inside you)

2) Traits account for consistency in behavior across situations


cardinal traits

single disposition that dominates a person's personality and influences everything they do

most people don't have a cardinal trait

ex. mother Theresa (compassion), donald trump (greed)


3 kinds of traits

Defined by Allport

cardinal traits
central traits
secondary traits


central traits

a small number of traits that seem to be most influential to a person that are primary traits to one's self

everyone has them (usually 3-10)


secondary traits

characteristics that everyone has, but only displays in a limited setting


nomothetic approach

comparison of all people along the same personality dimensions

generalized to a population

emphasized by Cattell, Eysenck



in-depth analysis of a single person and the dimensions relevant to that person's personality

emphasized by Allport



emphasized idiographic approach

blended "psychology of a stranger" and individualist overload approaches into patterned individuality

wrote "letters from Jenny"

found 18,000 words that apply to personality traits

father of trait theory

made 3 kinds of traits: cardinal, central, secondary


patterned individuality

combines nomothetic ("psychology of a stranger") and idiographic ("individualist overload") approaches

each person has specifics, but there are commonalities among them

developed by Allport


"Psychology of a stranger"

nomothetic approach

characteristics you can learn about someone from a first time meeting

blended into patterned individuality by Allport


Individualist overload

idiographic approach

cannot apply personality traits to everyone because there are too many traits and people

blended into patterned individuality by Allport



nomothetic approach to trait theory

Trait as “building block”- interested in how everyone shared personality traits, not how we differ

Searched for basic traits- narrowed down Allports 18,000 words to just 4500 (then to 171 traits, then 16 dimensions) by using factor analysis and eliminating duplicates and synonyms in an effort to find the "periodic table" or traits

trait level


Cattell's Search for basic traits

4,500 terms (“lexical criterion”-if its an important trait then there will be a word for it) from Allport’s 18,000 words by eliminating blatant synonyms. Then further narrowed to 171 traits

Collected data on the 171 traits from multiple data sources:
L-data (Life Record of a person’s activities)
Q-data (Questionnaire data)
T-data (Test data, ex. Performance on IQ tests)

Reduced to 16 dimensions
Had a range for each factor (high, low, in between)

4. 16PF


Critiques of Cattell's approach

Over-reliance on factor analysis

Profile of personality is too abstract and sterile - “Average Person”

Losing important information that is specific to each person

Little theoretical underpinning (bottom-up data driven, unlike Eysenck)


bottom-up vs top-down data

bottom-up: begin with results, interpret data, then make a theory that supports it

top-down: make theory, then test and analyze the data to see if it supports the theory (more common method)



nomothetical trait theorist

2 basic dimensions: introversion/extroversion, stability/instability (neuroticism)

theory driven (top-down, unlike Cattell)

dimensions are independent and not correlated together

supertrait level


Testing Eysenck's model

self-report (questionnaires)

factor analysis (though not as much as Cattell)

Lemon juice test- introverts are more sensitive to stimulation, so they salivate more than extroverts when lemon juice is dropped onto their tongues


results of factor analysis

Specific response level: the lowest level of response and is a very specific behavior to a specific situation
Habitual level: response similar in many situations
Trait level: habitual responses my come from underlying traits
Supertraits: made up of many traits


Eysenck vs Cattell

1. What are the foundational elements of personality (basic building blocks)?
Eysenck: “top-down”, Cattell: “bottom-up”

2. Factor analysis- used to support their theories
Eysenck: to validate (came in with a theory and used FA to verify it), Cattell: to determine (did not know the outcome, used FA to find a theory)

3. Basic traits
Eysenck: two (very broadest and most important traits that can be identified), Cattell: sixteen (settled for the 16 that came out of his factor analysis)


the big five

the 5 personality traits that are considered the most important traits today

Openness to experience (O)
Conscientiousness (C)
Extraversion (E)
Agreeableness (A)
Neuroticism (N)

all have a range of values


sources of evidence for the big 5

factor analysis of trait terms in language self-reported data, and observer judgement

linked to behavior (tested by Gosling, et al) (agreement between self ratings and observer ratings, studies of "behavioral residue"[your personality will leak into your surroundings: office spaces, bedrooms, etc.])


criticisms and limitations of the Big 5 Model

the terms used to describe personality may only capture a portion of it

lingering disagreements ("Big 5 plus or minus 2")

over reliance on factor analysis ("garbage in, garbage out")

focus on traits or supertraits? (Cattell was trait level, Eysenck was supertrait level)


strengths of the trait approach

foundational structure of personality ("building blocks")

objective focus (measure personality)

highly generative

many practical applications (ex. Educational testing services, job placement tests)


weaknesses of the trait approach

data driven, not by theory

ignores the unconscious

more descriptive than explanatory

overemphasis on dispositions (does not incorporate situational behavior)

consistency problem: personality coefficient is only around .30 (due to method variance in reporting, multiple influences from traits at the same time, situations)



traits that predict behavior



traits and situations interact to influence behavior

strong vs weak situations- certain situations show personality better than others


construing the situation

different people react differently in different situations

ex. normal guy scared in a bar fight, karate master excited in a bar fight


context dependent expression of personality

"if-then" contingencies

a personality trait only shows through in certain situations


perspectives of personality

Dispositional Perspective

Types & Traits – categorize by summarizing people’s observable behavioral tendencies

Needs & Motives – categorize by summarizing people’s underlying motivations for behavior

Biological Perspective

Biological Systems
Behavioral Genetics


Needs & motives vs. types & traits similarities

seek to find the basic set of dispositional elements that make up who we are

focus on individual differences and the classification of the differences as the nature of personality (set of dispositions that make up your personality)

causes influence on behavior


Needs & motives vs. types & traits differences

types and trait theorists: "what and how"

needs and motives theorists: "why"


henry murray

introduced personology: the scientific study of the whole person. intense idiographic analysis of a person over time

introduced new terminology that provided consistence for psychologists

introduced the tension-reduction principle, classified types of needs (viscerogenic and psychogenic)


murray's definition of a need

real things grounded in the brain

causal role in perception, thought, and behavior (needs are causing our actions)

tension-reduction principle


tension-reduction principle

introduced my murray

a tension for a need builds up over time and in an effort to satisfy that need you perform actions that reduce that need

applies to both physical and social needs


2 types of needs

classified by murray

viscerogenic needs (12) - primary, biological needs (air, water, food, etc.)

psychogenic (27) needs- psychological, secondary needs (achievement, affiliation, etc.)


psychogenic needs

categorized by murray

psychological, secondary needs (achievement, affiliation)

most important determinants of personality

operate outside of awareness (subconsciously fulfill needs without realizing you were low on that need)

some of the 27 needs are stronger in some people than others (importance of the need depends on this strength)



an environmental variable

a tendency in the environment to facilitate or obstruct the expression of a need

murray thought that personality was guided by needs and environmental factors

two types: alpha and beta press


alpha press

objective environment, something real in the environment that you can interact with that may facilitate or obstruct a need

ex. Grading an exam on a curve gives you a better grade which boosts your achievement needs (facilitates need)


beta press

perceived, subjective environment that may facilitate or obstruct a need

Ex. You wave to someone in the hall and they don’t wave back (maybe they didn't see you) then you feel bad about yourself


measurements of needs

needs as unconscious (earlier trait theorists relied on self-report)
Murray didn’t think if you asked someone about their needs that they could answer accurately because they don’t know these things about themselves (created the TAT)

limited value of observation and rating methods
a. needs are often latent- not openly manifested behavior (it is not clear what the need that is causing a behavior is)
b. different behavior can serve the same need (impossible to associate a specific need to a specific behavior)


Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

test of your unconscious needs by writing a story relating to an ambiguous scene of a picture

Very accurate test of people’s needs
People would write many different stories

Assumption that people will identify with the main character and you will project your needs onto the main character- projective test (like previous ink blot tests)

researcher subjectively interprets the story (imparts researcher's own personality bias)



motive theorist

modified Murray's TAT to objectively score it to avoid the researcher's scoring bias

believed we are not aware of our needs

introduced motives (focused on achievement [desire to do things well and efficiently], power [desire to have an impact on others] and affiliation [desire to establish, maintain, or restore positive relations with others])



introduced my McClelland

A recurrent preference or readiness for a particular quality of experience, which energizes, directs, and selects behavior in certain situations

grounded in learned affective experiences

not just about getting your need satisfied, but about how you feel when your needs are satisfied


2 types of motives

Defined by McClelland

Implicit motive- these motives aren't related to the motives that people know about themselves

Self-attributed motive- motives you know about yourself


strengths of needs and motives

addresses the "why" of human behavior

much more explanatory

allows for a richer, more dynamic explanation of personality traits


Weaknesses of Needs and motives

arbitrary list of needs (not all needs have much theoretical underpinning)

arbitrary research focus (McClelland focused exclusively on 3 of Murray's needs and didn't acknowledge the rest)

How do traits and needs and motives interact?
How consistent/stable are they over time and situations?



abstract mental qualities are associated with development of "organs" of the brain and overdevelopment causes bumps on the skull

personality can be determined by analyzing the configuration of bumps on the skull


Eysenck's evidences for the biological basis of individual differences

stability over time within individuals

same patterns across different cultures

genetics influence introversion-extraversion and neurotism


biological basis for introversion-extraversion (I-E)

ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) regulates general arousal in the brain and high level= alert, low level= drowsy

baseline levels are higher in introverts but the optimal cortical arousal is the same for both

introverts avoid stimulus since they already start with higher baseline levels. Extroverts are attracted to stimulus since they need higher arousal levels

other empirical findings support this


biological basis for stability-instability (S-I)

S-I: brain regions associated with emotion- I= low threshold before brain becomes activated, S= high threshold

S-I believed to magnify I-E (combinations of unstable and introverted makes people become more introverted)


Gray's 2 dimensions of personality

anxiety proneness (BIS) and impulsivity (BAS)

motivational systems grounded in the brain

Gray's theories fit together with Eysenck

strong BIS/weak BAS – phobias & anxiety disorders
strong BAS/weak BIS – antisocial behavior (no regards to consequences) & substance abuse


Anxiety Proneness (Behavioral inhibition system (BIS))

grounded in the brain

sensitive to and activated by: punishment stimuli, absence of a reward, fear stimuli, unfamiliar (novel) stimuli

BIS Activation: Behavioral effects (interruption), cognitive effects ("scanning"), affective effects (anxiety)

different BIS and BAS levels in different situations


impulsivity (Behavioral Activation/Approach System (BAS))

activated by: reward stimuli, escape from an unexpected punishment

BAS Activation: behavioral effects (Approach), affective effects (hope, relief)

different BIS and BAS levels in different situations


Eysenck'd dimensions stated in terms of BIS and BAS

Extrovert - high BAS/low BIS
Introvert - high BIS/low BAS

Unstable – high BAS/high BIS
Stable – low BAS/low BIS


behavioral genetics

the study of genetic influences on behavior

2 determinants of behavior: genes and environment

Eysenck and Gray both thought there are innate differences in brain functioning that affect personality functioning (inherit personality genes from our parents?)


selection method

behavioral genetics method

Animals were selectively breed to see how traits were pass
2 active mice were mated, 2 non active mice mated, active mice offspring were twice as active as the non active mice offspring (active mice got more active, lazy mice got more lazy)

After 30 generations, offspring of active mice were 30x more active than the offspring of lazy mice


family method

behavioral genetics method

theory: you should behave more like your brothers and sisters than like your cousins because you share more genes with your siblings

The descendants from his wife were mostly doctors, lawyers,etc
The tavern’s girl descendants were prostitutes, alcoholics

problems associated with the study: socioeconomic factors, education, nurture, etc.


twin method

behavioral genetics method

Compare correlations between twins since they share the same environment so their only difference is their genes (in dizygotic/fraternal twins)

Monozygotic (identical) twins share 100% of the same genes since they came from the same egg
Dizygotic twins share only 50% if their dna which is the same as for normal siblings

Dizygotic twins should have more different personalitilies than the monoxygotic twins since their eggs were more different

monozygotic twins showed more behavioral correlation than dizygotic twins

weakness: flaw in assumption of similar environments (monozygotic= always same sex, might have different life experiences, etc.)


adoption method

behavioral genetics method

Compare adopted children to: adoptive parents (similarities due to environment) and biological parents (similarities due to genes)

Adoptive children and adoptive parents= no correlation
Adoptive children and biological parents= very small correlation

Correlation between adopted & bio kids is almost nil
Little influence of shared environments


the combined method

behavioral genetics method that combines twin and adoptive methods

Compare twins separated at birth to twins raised together

If genetics play a large role, then there should be the same correlations for both sets of twins
If genetics play no role, then there should be no correlation between the sets of twins

there was essentially the same correlation between twins (raised together was actually slightly lower due to "de-identification" and actively striving to be different)

Correlation between MZ twins raised apart & together are almost identical
Little influence of shared environments


environment variation

shared environments (same house, same parents, etc.) account for 5% of variability in personality- increase similarity

nonshared environments (unique life experiences) account for 35% of variability in personality- decrease similarity

Alike family members are mostly due to genes, differences in personalities are mostly due to nonshared environments

If you see similarity, it is probably due to genes
If you see differences, it is probably due to nonshared environments


dynamic interactionism

3 types:

Proactive- people select themselves into a situation

Evocative- a person’s presence in the situation unintentionally elicits reactions from people

Manipulation- when a person intentionally enters an environment and evokes a reaction

People are not completely independent of their environment- involves situations when people can choose their environment


Theory vs hypothesis

Theory – an integrated set of principles that explain and predict observed events
Hypothesis – A testable proposition that describes a relationship between variables

can't test a theory directly, can only test a hypothesis


internal vs. external validity

internal- random assignment, mundane realism (how close and experiment is to real life), experimental realism (extent to which a participant behaves in a way that is best for the experiment (participant boredom compromises this)

external validity-how much you can generalize the experiment to the general population


self awareness

attention directed towards oneself

the "I" self: what is internally happening right now

Ongoing stream of consciousness (current thoughts)

the self-as-subject



one's knowledge about who one is

the "me" self- more stable view of yourself over time

beliefs or theories about the self

the self-as-object

schema and self-schemata and self-esteem


3 core roots of the self

reflexive consciousness
interpersonal aspect
executive function


reflexive consciousness

one of the 3 core roots of self

self awareness and the self concept

"Conscious attention turning back towards its own source and gradually constructing a concept of oneself


interpersonal aspect

one of the 3 core roots of self

the self in relation to others

what we learn about ourselves by interacting with others


executive function

one of the 3 core roots of self

the self as an agent of actions, a decision maker

self-regulation and choices in daily life



help to make up the self concept

"a mental representation capturing the general characteristic of a particular class of episodes, events, or individuals"

mental template



help to make up the self concept ("me" self)

knowledge (hypotheses) about the self, the "cognitive component"

“…cognitive generalizations about the self, derived from past experience, that organize and guide the processing of self-relevant information”

develops through: learned associations, "looking-glass self" (interpreting how others see us, and self perception theory


learned associations

helps to develop self-schemata (self-concept)

how self awareness slowly develops into self concepts

ex. do something fun repeatedly and you always expect it to be fun


self perception theory

helps to develop self-schemata (self-concept)

we learn about ourselves by watching our own actions

actions you take represent your personality


individualism vs collectivism

individualism- self reliance ad independence with unique values and ideals

collectivism- envisioning yourself in a group role and as part of a group

individualism is more common in western culture and collectivism is more common in east asian cuktures


individual differences (construals)

contruals- how individuals perceive, comprehend, and interpret the world around them, particularly the behavior or action of others towards themselves

independent self-construal: one's identity (acknowledges relationships with others)

interdependent self-construal: construing one's identity in relation to others (more deeply embedded in others)

Relational-interdependent self-construal: a person defines themselves by their number of close relationships



a global evaluation of one's worth

the "affective" (emotional)/ evaluative component of the self concept

how we feel about ourselves- high= positive self-evaluation, low= negative self evaluation


implicit vs explicit self esteem

explicit= our conscious evaluation of ourselves
implicit- the degree to which we unconsciously associate positive or negative things with ourselves

"defensive" high self esteem= high explicit self esteem, but low implicit (narcissism)


self efficacy

a sense that one is competent and effective

not a positive or negative view of yourself, just a view of your environment


locus of control

extent to which we perceive outcomes as internally controllable or externally controlled

Internal locus of control- you have power over your environment
External locus of control- you don’t have the power to control your environment


learned helplessness

by repeated events people will learn that the situation is out of their control

uncontrollable bad events -> perceived lack of control -> learned helplessness


self-serving bias

the tendency to perceive oneself in an unrealistically favorable manner

ex. take credit for success and avoid blame, most people think they are better than average


egocentrism bias

we focus our own behavior in a social situation, so we may think it is equally the focus of others

self bias


spotlight effect

belief that others are paying more attention to oneself than they really are


illusion of transparency

belief that concealed thought/emotions are easily read by others

ex. Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart



the process through which we try to control the impressions people form of us

often referred to as impression management

We are aware that we form opinions about other people and know that they form opinions too, so you try to present yourself in the best possible way

We want people to see us positively at first the long people know each other you want people to view you accurately


self handicapping

the behavior of withdrawing effort or creating obstacles to one's future effort

People often engage in self-handicapping prior to an event that may threaten self-esteem, and provide a plausible excuse for failure rather than taking full responsibility upon themselves

"insurance policy for your self esteem"

2 types: behavioral and self-reported handicaps


behavioral handicaps

overt actions that reduce the likelihood of success

observable, more obvious

physically prohibit yourself from doing well


self-report handicaps

claims that a performance- impeding condition exists

potentially less effective, but less costly to your performance

usually this handicap is preferred if both this and behavioral handicaps are available


social cognition

process by which people think about and make sense of other people, themselves, and social situations

how people initially form impressions of each other's personalities, emotions, roles, and identities

3 simplification strategies: dispositional inference biases, confirmatory biases, cognitive heuristics


assumptions about social cognition

motivated to make sense of the world by seeing ordered patterns

social world is loaded with information

limited capacity for attention and information processing

cognitive miser- we process information only until we have enough to make an assumption


dispositional inference

attributing someone's behavior to their personal qualities rather than the situation

part of the dispositional inference bias

people still thought people were more pro-castro even when they knew the people were being forced to write a pro-castro essay (their behavior was a response to strong situational demands)


fundamental attribution error

bias toward dispositional (person-based) inferences

ex. you see someone in weird clothes and we assume they are just weird, but maybe they just had their laundry stolen

part of dispositional inference biases


actor-observer bias

everyone else's behavior is due to their personality, but my behavior is due to the situation

ex. You see someone trip and you think they are clumsy, you trip and blame it on the bunched up rug

part of the dispositional inference bias


dispositional inference bias

dispositional inference
fundamental attribution error
actor-observer bias


confirmatory bias

seek to verify existing beliefs

interpret confirmatory info (initial expectations may guide interpretation of an ambiguous behavior), seek confirmatory info (we not only seek confirmatory infor, but we are biased to further confirm our beliefs), create confirmatory info (self fulfilling prophecy)


self fulfilling prophecy

used to create confirmatory information for the confirmation bias

inaccurate expectation leads to expectation- consistent behavior

ex. People hear a false rumor that a bank is failing so they pull out their money and then the bank actually fails


cognitive heuristic

social cognition simplification strategy

mental shortcut

3 types: anchoring and adjustment heuristic, representativeness heuristic, availability heuristic

generally adaptive because of the necessity to be cognitive misers

speed/accuracy tradeoff


representative heuristic

type of cognitive heuristic

strategy of basing likelihood judgements on prototypes

associated with conjunction errors


conjunction error

an example of the representativeness heuristic

when the combination of 2 events is thought to be more likely than 2 independent events

ex. The chance that someone is just a bank teller is way more likely than the chance they are a bank teller and a feminist


availability heuristic

when the likelihood estimates are based on how easily examples come to mind

ex. You hear about all the dangers of something from the media when it may not be very dangerous at all

associated with false consensus effect


false consensus effect

the tendency to overestimate others' agreement with us

ex. If you are a smoker you tend to way overestimate the number of smokers. You tend to hang around more smokers, so you assume there are more of them than there are

associated with the availability heuristic


anchoring and adjustment heuristic

begin with a rough estimate and adjust from it

need a starting point then you make deviations from that

ex. Estimate the length of a river, people who start with 500 miles will estimate much smaller than those who start with 5000 miles


affective forecasting errors

the tendency to mispredict the intensity and duration of emotional reactions to future events

partially caused by: focalism and immune neglect



part of the reason behind affective forecasting errors

the tendency to overestimate how much we will think about an event in the future and underestimate the influence of other events

ex. most people do not anticipate that they will be happier with irreversible decisions


immune neglect

part of the reason behind affective forecasting errors

the tendency to ignore automatic psychological processes that help us "cope" with emotional events



information that is more easily retrieved is more likely to be used

ex. like being showed rhyming words make you more likely to answer a question with another rhyming word

can be influenced by priming



temporarily increasing the accessibility of a concept by presenting a related stimulus

may or may not be within your consciousness