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Personality Rapid Review for AP Psychology (page 3)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Trait theory—A trait is a relatively permanent characteristic of our personality that can be used to predict our behavior.

Gordon Allport's trait theory proposed three levels of traits:

  • Cardinal trait—defining characteristic, in a small number of us, that dominates and shapes all of our behavior.
  • Central trait—general characteristic; between 5 and 10 of these shape much of our behavior.
  • Secondary trait—a characteristic apparent in only certain situations. Our unique pattern of traits determines our behavior.

Hans Eysenck—three genetically influenced dimensions describe personality; used factor analysis, a statistical procedure that identifies common factors among groups of items, to determine his three dimensions:

  • Extroversion (also extraversion)—measures our sociability and tendency to pay attention to the external environment, as opposed to our private mental experiences.
  • Neuroticism—measures our level of instability—how moody, anxious, and unreliable we are—as opposed to stability—how calm, even-tempered, and reliable we are.
  • Psychoticism—measures our level of tough-mindedness—how hostile, ruthless, and insensitive we are—as opposed to tender-mindedness—how friendly, empathetic, and cooperative we are.

Raymond Cattell studies surface traits—hundreds of visible areas of personality.

  • Sixteen basic traits, source traits, underlie personality characteristics.
  • Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, 16 PF, yields trait profiles of personality.
  • Paul Costa and Robert McCrae used factor analysis to identify five broad dimensions of personality. Five-factor model of personality, nicknamed "The Big Five," includes the traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Assessment techniques to measure personality:

    Unstructured interviews involve informal conversation centered on the individual.
    Structured interviews involve the interviewer posing a series of planned questions that the interviewee answers.
    Halo effect—tendency to generalize a favorable impression to unrelated dimensions of the subject's personality.
    Behavioral assessments—record the frequency of specific behaviors in an observation.
    Hawthorn effect—when people know that they are being observed, they change their behavior to what they think the observer expects or to make themselves look good.
    Psychoanalysts use projective personality tests—presenting ambiguous stimuli, such as inkblots or pictures, with the assumption that test takers will project their unconscious thoughts or feelings onto the stimuli. Examples are Rorschach inkblot test and Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).
    Self-report methods, the most common personality assessment techniques, involve answering a series of questions, such as a personality questionnaire, or supplying information about himself or herself.
  • Jung's personality types are measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
  • Cattell's personality traits are measured by the 16 PF.
  • Rotter's locus of control is measured by the Internal-External Locus of Control Scale.
  • Maslow's self-actualization is measured by the Personal Orientation Inventory.
  • Rogers's congruence between the actual self and ideal self is measured by the Q-sort.
  • MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2)—567 true-false items.
  • Patterns of responses reveal personality dimensions.
  • NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI) and the Big Five Questionnaire (BFQ)—assess personality based on the five-factor model in healthy people; used in cross-cultural research.

Self-concept and Self-esteem:

    Self-concept—our overall view of our abilities, behavior, and personality.
    Self-esteem—one part of our self-concept or how we evaluate ourselves.
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