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Chapter+3+(Part+2) - Common Features of Trait Theories...

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Common Features of Trait Theories Generality and Stability of Traits: Trait theorists all use consistencies in an individual’s behavior and explain why persons respond in different ways to the same stimulus All differentiate between relatively superficial traits (surface traits: Cattell), and basic, underlying traits (source traits: Cattell). Most theorists also recognize fluctuations in people’s position with respect to a disposition All are committed to a search for relatively broad, stable traits Traits and States Distinguished Traits and states: both are terms that refer to perceived attributes of people Both refer to categories with fuzzy boundaries and based on prototypes/exemplars Prototypic traits: seen as enduring, stable qualities of people over long time periods Prototypic states: qualities that are only brief in duration and attributable to external causes Search for Basic Traits: Trait psychologists try to identify the individual’s position on one or more dimensions by comparing people tested under standardized conditions Paid little attention to the environment Positions on dimensions should be relatively stable across testing situations Quantification Trait approach’s methodology: “psychometric” – attempts to measure individual differences and to quantify them. Psychometrians study people and groups on trait dimensions by comparing scores on test Sample many people, compare large groups under uniform testing conditions and devise statistical techniques to infer basic traits Aggregating across Situations to Increase Reliability Psychologists realize that in the past they have underestimated personal constancies in behavior If we want to test how well a disposition (trait) can be used to predict behavior, we also have to sample not only disposition but also behavior we want to predict In the past, researchers tried to predict single acts from dispositional measure Multiple Act criterion: A pooled combination of many behaviors that is relevant to the trait, and a pooled combination of many raters. Reliability will increase when the number of items in a test sample is increased and combined
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Temporal stability (ex. of self-reported emotions and experiences recorded daily and observer judgment) becomes much larger when it is based on averages over may days than when it is based on only single items on single days Even if it is not possible to predict what one individual will do in a specific situation, it is possible to predict the person’s overall standing relative to other people when behavior is aggregated Taxonomy of Human Attributes A widely shared goal: to find a universal taxonomy/classification system for sorting human attributes into relatively small set of functional dimensions or categories on which individual differences can be described Psycholexical Approach Researchers in this approach assume that individual differences enter into the nature of
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Chapter+3+(Part+2) - Common Features of Trait Theories...

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