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PSYC 250: Personality

Exam 1 Study Guide

Fall 2016
Feel free to work on this study guide with others, including in-person and on-line sharing
What are the key characteristics of personality, according to Allports (1961) definition?
Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical
systems that determine characteristic patterns of behavior and thought.
What are the Big Five (names & general description of / adjectives associated with each)?
Extraversion Outgoing and enthusiastic (opposite is quiet and aloof)
Neuroticism Prone to stress and worry (opposite is emotionally stable)
Conscientiousness Organized and self-directed (opposite is spontaneous and careless)
Agreeableness Trusting and empathetic (opposite is hostile and uncooperative)
Openness Creative, eccentric, and imaginative (opposite is conventional and practical)
Why does a strong situation reduce individual differences in behavior?
Strong situation triggers mental mechanism (e.g. increase heart rate, desire to run away).
According to evolutionary psychology, how do we decide to cooperate or compete with
another person? That is, what interpersonal factors would make someone more likely to
cooperate with someone else? What would make them more likely to compete?
How well do you know that person? How long will you have to deal with them? How much
do you like them? People cooperate more if there is a system in place to punish cheaters.
How does reciprocal altruism improve fitness? How does kin selection improve fitness?
Kin selection: Tendency to help those who are more closely related to yourself in order to
increase reproductive success of related others (Inclusive fitness).
Reciprocal Altruism: One person helps another person in exchange for future help. Helping
others will aid your own gene reproduction because you receive help in return or the person
you help shares some of your genes.
In a study of people from all over the world, what characteristics did people consider the
most important in a potential long-term romantic partner?
Mutual attraction/love, dependable character (conscientiousness), emotional stability and
maturity, and pleasing disposition (agreeableness).
What are the different ways that assortative mating (similarity between mates) can occur?
Primary AM (choose based on similarity), social homogamy (selected-environment
proximity), and convergence (mates become more similar to each other).
What are the basic tenets of natural selection?
Variation, inheritance, adaptation, evolution, fitness.
According to evolutionary theory, why might individual differences in personality exist? Why
havent we evolved to a single optimum species-wide personality?
If a trait is ALWAYS good, then it will be selected for and become the norm. However,
Selection is slower than environmental change occurring today. The environment in which
we evolved is the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness.
What are the two ways a trait can persist or across cultures, both geographically and over
time? How does identifying (or not identifying) the same personality traits in people and
different non-human animals help us understand when personality evolved?
Two ways a trait can persist are cultural transmission and biological transmission. Cross-
species comparisons may parallel inferences from cross-cultural comparisons.
What are the benefits and limitations of animal research?
Benefits: Naturalistic observation, longitudinal studies are more practical, experimental
control, ability to measure physiological characteristics.
Limitations: Cannot guarantee same results for human (anthropomorphism), ethical
How are rating and coding used to assess animal personality? How do we evaluate if we are
able to measure animal personality?
Subjective rating of broad traits by knowledgeable observers.
Objective coding of an animals overt behaviors.
Evaluate by reliability and validity.
What are the potential costs and benefits to being a bold animal?
Costs: Fight more and potentially lose.
Benefits: Encounter more potential mates and resources.
Which of the Big Five are most often observed in non-human animals? Which of the Big
Five do we share with the fewest non-human animals?
Extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness. Conscientiousness is least consistently
observed in non-human animals.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of case studies, experimental studies, and
correlational studies?
Case Studies Advantages: Describes whole phenomenon (like a novel), can be a source of
ideas, and the method is absolutely necessary.
Case Studies Disadvantages: The degree to which its findings can be generalized is
Experimental Advantages: The ability to ascertain what causes what.
Experimental Disadvantages: You can never be sure exactly what you have manipulated
and of where the actual causality was located, it can create levels of a variable that are
unlikely or even impossible in real life, experiments often require deception, and sometimes
experiments are simply not possible.
Correlational Advantages: More realistic data, dont require deception
Correlational Disadvantages: Raises the possibility that both of two correlated variables
were caused by an unmeasured third variable
Why shouldnt we rely on personal experience to do science?
Personal experiences add to confirmation bias, discounting, and the pleasant truth problem.
Based on the largest available study, what is the relationship between personality and birth
Birth order has no effect on personality.
Describe the three requirements for establishing causal relationships.
Association, isolation, and direction.
Why is experimental evidence often difficult or impossible to collect in personality research?
What are some important topics that lack experimental evidence in humans?
Impossible, impractical, and unethical. Some important topics include tobacco consumption
and health outcomes, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and sex/gender.
How do traits compare to types? What are the benefits and limitations of each approach to
describing individual differences?
Trait: A consistent characteristic.
Type: A category whose members share one or more characteristic.
What bodily substances make up the Four Humors? (Be able to recognize the group of 4)
Blood, Yellow Bile, Black Bile, and Phlegm.
How many dimensions make up the MBTI (just how many, dont need to know what they
are)? How many Types? What was the MBTI designed to predict?
4 dimensions, 16 types, and designed to predict success within occupation.
What are some criticisms of the reliability of the MBTI? What are the criticisms of the MBTIs
Reliability: High standard error of measurement. 50% test-takers switch types within 5
Validity: Does not predict success within occupation (poor convergent). Confounded with sex
as sex differences in types and occupations explain apparent relationships between types
and occupations (poor discriminant).
What behavioral differences are most commonly associated with individual differences in
Sensation seeking.
What are the potential sources of personality data? What are some examples, benefits, and
limitations of each?
Sources of data include test data, life-outcome data, observer-report data, and self-report
Which traits can be assessed accurately (better-than-chance) from a thin slice of behavior,
such as a less than 1-second exposure to a picture of a persons face? How does other-
report accuracy change with increased experience with a person?
Sexual orientation, extraversion, aggression. More experience with a person does lead to
more accurate estimates.
For what kinds of traits are friend-ratings likely to be more accurate than self-ratings? What
is an example of this kind of trait? What kind of traits are likely to be more accurate from
self-reports than from friend-reports?
Friend-rating is more accurate for low observability and high evaluativeness (intelligence).
Self-report data is more accurate for low observability and low evaluativeness (anxious).
What is self-monitoring and how does it relate to variability (or consistency) in one persons
behavior across different situations?
Self-monitoring individual is one who, out of a concern for social appropriateness, is
particularly sensitive to the expression and self-presentation of others in social situations
and uses these cues as guidelines for monitoring his own self-presentation. High variation
for high self-monitoring (conform to situation).
What are the different ways to assess reliability and validity?
Reliability: Test-retest, inter-rater, and internal consistency.
Variability: Face, convergent, discriminant, construct validity.
How is psychology WEIRD? What does this mean for the generalizability of findings from
most psychology studies?
Participants in psychology experiments tend to be: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich,
and Democratic. This shows that many findings from psychology studies may not be
Which two of the Big Five can be most accurately predicted from Facebook Likes? How
does accuracy change as more Likes are used to predict personality and demographic
The two Big Five traits were openness and extraversion. As the number of likes increase,
the prediction accuracy also increases.
What are the major limitations of attempting to study the relationship between sex or gender
and anything else?
Discriminant validity, random assignment, and confounding sex and gender.
What is the average sex difference in general cognitive ability? Which specific ability is the
exception to the findings for general cognitive ability?
No average sex difference. Exception is spatial rotation is higher in males.
Which of the Big Five shows the least evidence of sex differences? Which trait shows the
largest sex difference?
Openness shows least evidence. Neuroticism shows largest difference.
Which world region has the largest average sex differences in personality? Which region
has the smallest average sex differences? Which is the only trait to show consistent sex
differences across all examined world regions?
North America has largest average sex differences. East Asia has smallest differences.
Neuroticism shows consistent differences.
Which interest shows the largest sex difference? How does this compare to the sex
difference in height? What does that mean in terms of making assumptions about interests
based solely on sex?
Engineering interest for men is largest difference, but still smaller difference than height.
This shows that making assumptions about interests solely based on sex is inaccurate.
How do sex differences in Neuroticism compare between humans and hyenas? What does
this tell us about sex differences in Neuroticism in humans?
Sex with less social status is higher in neuroticism. Female is higher on neuroticism for
human (vice versa for hyenas).
How do Social Learning Theory and Hormonal Theory seek to explain human sex
Social Learning Theory: Kids learn by observing behaviors of others.
Hormonal Theory: Males and females differ due to underlying hormones, not different social
Trait A consistent characteristic
Operationalization Process of defining an ambiguous concept so that it can be measured
Linguistic Relativity Language influences perception
Lexical Hypothesis Important traits have many synonyms within a language or are
described in many languages
Fluctuating selection Mode of natural selection characterized by the fluctuation of the
direction of selection on a given phenotype over a relatively brief period of evolutionary time
Negative frequency dependent selection The fitness of a phenotype decreases as it
becomes more common
Fitness indicator trait Retain genetic variation (having more is always better); example is
the peacocks tail
P-level or P-value The probability of an observed result; if the p-value is less than or equal
to the chosen significance level, the test suggests that the observed data is inconsistent with
the null hypothesis, so the null hypothesis must be rejected
Type I error Incorrect rejection of a true null hypothesis; deciding that one variable has an
effect on, or a relationship with, another variable, when really it does not
Type II error Incorrectly retaining a false null hypothesis; deciding that one variable does
not have an effect on, or a relationship with, another variable when it really does
Correlation coefficient r that range from 0 to 1; quantifies statistical relationship
File Drawer Effect Motivation to write up interesting research leads to others getting
forgotten in the file drawer
Principal of Aggregation The sum of multiple measures is more reliable and valid than any
one of those measures alone
Gender identity Personal perception of how one identifies himself or herself
Gender presentation How we present ourselves to others (feminine/masculine)

Why are some people more prone to changes in their personality types than others?
How would peoples personality and behaviors change if they were constantly under
watch by the law enforcement (game theory)?
How would personality types for individuals change if everyone was to speak the same
language (linguistic relativity)?
If non-human animals developed the same personality and intelligence level as humans,
how would the ethical concerns and practicality of experiment on non-human animal
Why are some people attracted towards the same sex as themselves even if they cannot
increase reproductive success by mating with the same sex (kin selection)?