Traits and Trait Taxonomies

+ Chapter 3 Traits and Trait Taxonomies 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . + Trait-Descriptive Adjectives Words that describe traits, attributes of a person that are characteristic of a person and perhaps enduring over time 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-2 + Three Fundamental Questions Guide Those Who Study Traits How should we conceptualize traits?

How can we identify which traits are the most important from among the many ways that individuals differ? How can we formulate a comprehensive taxonomy of traitsa system that includes within it all the major traits of personality? 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-3 + What Is a Trait?: Two Basic Formulations Traits as Internal Causal Properties vs.

Traits as Purely Descriptive Summaries 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-4 + Traits as Internal Causal Properties Traits are presumed to be internal in that individuals carry their desires, needs, and wants from one situation to next Desires and needs are presumed to be causal in that they explain behavior of individuals who possess them Traits can lie dormant in that capacities are present

even when behaviors are not expressed Scientific usefulness of viewing traits as causes of behavior lies in ruling out other causes 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-5 + Traits as Purely Descriptive Summaries Traits as descriptive summaries of attributes of a person; no assumption about internality, nor is causality assumed Argue that we must first identify and describe important individual differences and subsequently develop casual theories to explain them

2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-6 + The Act Frequency Formulation of Traits: An Illustration of the Descriptive Summary Foundation Starts with the notion that traits are categories of acts 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-7 + Act Frequency Research Program Act nominations:

Prototypicality judgments: Designed to identify which acts belong in which trait categories Involves identifying which acts are most central or prototypical of each trait category Monitoring act performance: Securing information on actual performance of individuals in their daily lives 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-8 + Critique of Act Frequency Formulation

Does not specify how much context should be included in the description of the trait-relevant act Seems applicable to overt actions, but what about failures to act or covert acts not directly observable? May not successfully capture complex traits Atheoretical Nothing within approach provides guide to which traits are important or explanation for why individuals differ in frequency of act performance over time 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved .

3-9 + Accomplishments of Act Frequency Formulation Helpful in making explicit the behavioral phenomena to which most trait terms refer Helpful in identifying behavioral regularities Helpful in exploring the meaning of some traits that are difficult to study, such as impulsivity and creativity 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-10 + Identification of the Most

Important Traits: Three Approaches 1. Lexical Approach 2. Statistical Approach 3. Theoretical Approach 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-11 + Lexical Approach Starts with lexical hypothesis: All important individual differences have become encoded within the natural language over time

Trait terms are important for people in communicating with others Two criteria for identifying important traits Synonym frequency Cross-cultural universality 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-12 + Lexical Approach Problems and limitations

Many traits are ambiguous, metaphorical, obscure, or difficult Personality is conveyed through different parts of speech (not just adjectives), including nouns and adverbs Lexical approach is a good starting point for identifying important an individual difference, but should not be the exclusive approach used 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-13 + Statistical Approach Starts with a large, diverse pool of personality items

Most researchers using lexical approach turn to statistical approach to distill ratings of trait adjectives into basic categories of traits Goal of statistical approach is to identify major dimensions of personality 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-14 + Statistical Approach 3-15 Factor analysis Identifies groups of items that covary or go together, but tend not to covary with other groups of items

Provides means for determining which personality variables share some property or belong within the same group Useful in reducing the large array of diverse traits into smaller, more useful set of underlying factors Factor loading: Index of how much of a variation in an item is explained by a factor Cautionary note: You only get out of factor analysis what you put in; thus,

researchers must pay attention to the initial selection items 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . + Theoretical Approach Starts with a theory, which then determines which variables are important Example: Sociosexual orientation (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991) Strengths coincide with strengths of a theory, and weaknesses coincide with the weaknesses of a theory 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-16 +

Evaluating the Approaches for Identifying Important Traits In practice, many personality researchers use a combination of three approaches Norman (1963) and Goldberg (1990) started with the lexical strategy to identify the first set of variables for inclusion Then used factor analysis to reduce the set to a more manageable number (five) 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-17 + Evaluating the Approaches for Identifying Important Traits

This strategy solves two problems central to the science of personality: Problem of identifying key domains of individual differences Problem of describing order or structure that exists among individual differences identified 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-18 + Taxonomies of Personality Eysencks Hierarchical Model of Personality

Cattells Taxonomy: The 16 Personality Factor System Circumplex Taxonomies of Personality: The Wiggins Circumplex (1979) Five-Factor Model 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-19 + Eysencks Hierarchical Model of Personality Model of personality based on traits that Eysenck believed were highly heritable and had psychophysiological foundation

Three traits met criteria: Extraversion-Introversion (E) Neuroticism-Emotional Stability (N) Psychoticism (P) Extraversion High scorers like partiers, have many friends, require people around to talk to, like playing practical jokes on others, display carefree, easy manner, and have a high activity level 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved .

3-20 + Eysencks Hierarchical Model of Personality Neuroticism High scorers are worriers, anxious, depressed, have trouble sleeping, experience array of psychosomatic symptoms, and over-reactivity of negative emotions Psychoticism High scorers are solitary, lack empathy, often cruel and inhumane, insensitivity to pain and suffering of others, aggressive, penchant for strange and unusual, impulsive, and has antisocial tendencies

2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-21 + Eysencks Hierarchical Model of Personality Hierarchical Structure of Eysencks System Super traits (P, E, N) at the top Narrower traits at the second level Subsumed by each narrower trait is the third level habitual acts

At the lowest level of the four-tiered hierarchy are specific acts Hierarchy has the advantage of locating each specific, personality-relevant act within increasingly precise nested system 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-22 + Eysencks Hierarchical Model of Personality Biological UnderpinningsKey Criteria for Basic Dimensions of Personality Heritability: P, E, and N have moderate heritabilities, but so

do many other personality traits Identifiable physiological substrate Biological UnderpinningsLimitations Many other personality traits show moderate heritability Eysenck may have missed important traits 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-23 + Cattells Taxonomy: The 16 Personality Factor System Cattells goal was to identify and measure the basic

units of personality Believed that the true factors of personality should be found across different types of data, such as selfreports and laboratory tests 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-24 + Cattells Taxonomy: The 16 Personality Factor System Identified 16 factors Major criticisms Some personality researchers have failed to replicate the 16 factors

Many argue that a smaller number of factors captures important ways in which individuals differ 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-25 + The Wiggins Circumplex Wiggins (1979) developed measurement scales to assess traits Started with the lexical assumption Argued that trait terms specify different kinds of ways in which individuals differ: Interpersonal, temperament,

character, material, attitude, mental, and physical 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-26 + The Wiggins Circumplex Wiggins was concerned with interpersonal traits and carefully separated these out Defined interpersonal as interactions between people involving exchanges Two resources that define social exchange are love and status

Dimensions of status and love define axes of Wiggins circumplex 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-27 + The Wiggins Circumplex Wiggins circumplex has three key advantages Provides an explicit definition of what constitutes interpersonal behavior Specifies relationships between each trait and every other trait in the model (adjacency, bipolarity, orthogonality)

Alerts investigators to gaps in work on interpersonal behavior Key limitation Interpersonal map is limited to two dimensionsother traits may have important interpersonal consequences 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-28 + Five-Factor Model Five broad factors:

Surgency or Extraversion Agreeableness Conscientiousness Emotional Stability Openness/Intellect Originally based on the combination of lexical and statistical approaches Big Five taxonomy has achieved a greater degree of consensus than any other trait taxonomy in the history of personality trait psychology 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-29 + Five-Factor Model

Empirical Evidence for Five-Factor Model Replicable in studies using English language trait words as items Found by more than a dozen researchers using different samples Replicated in different languages Replicated in every decade for the past half century, suggesting five- factor solution replicable over time Replicated using different item formats 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved .

3-30 + Five-Factor Model The troublesome fifth factor: Some disagreement remains about the content and replicability of fifth factor Empirical correlates of the five factors Personality-descriptive nouns 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-31 + Five-Factor Model

Is the five-factor model comprehensive? Possible omissions include: positive evaluation negative evaluation masculinity/femininity religiosity or spirituality

attractiveness sexuality 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-32 + Summary and Evaluation There are different approaches to identifying the important traits Personality psychologists sometimes blend the approaches Formulating an overarching taxonomy of personality

traits is fundamental 2014 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved . 3-33

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