lecture2PSY236 - T hese three laws are: There are no...

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These three laws are: “There are no perfect indicators of personality; there are only clues and clues are always ambiguous.” “Something beats nothing, two times out of three.” and “There are only two kinds of data. The first kind is Terrible Data, the second kind is No Data.” These sound very pessimistic, but they reflect the unique challenge of studying personality. And that is, there is no gold standard measure of personality; there is no clear and irrefutable answer about what a person’s personality is really like. Instead (as I have repeatedly emphasized already, and will continue to do so) all we can observe are patterns, and these patterns provide hints about what is going on under the surface. But no single observation tells us the whole story, they are all just clues. Before moving on to the specific clues that we have available, I want to make very explicit the lessons that we should take away from these “laws.” First, we need to look very carefully at the flaws in any piece of information that we have about a person’s personality. Second, just because a clue is not perfect, we should not throw it out. In the right context, or with additional information, the flawed clue could still be very useful. And third, we should keep these laws in mind regardless of how obvious the flaws are. In other words, there are some clues that look like they should be very good; but even these have flaws and we should be careful to keep them in mind. In fact, if we want to apply these lessons to the real world, we should be skeptical of evidence in similar ways regardless of what the question is that we are trying to answer. The specific ways that we can be skeptical of personality data can apply to a lot of other evidence that we might read or hear about in our everyday life. IDATA advantage not in book- avoids biases Finally, the advantage that Funder does not explicitly discuss is that informant reports avoid some of the biases that we may have when reporting on our own personalities. We may not admit that we are socially unskilled or lazy; but our parents may be willing to provide this information. And if they aren’t then are siblings certainly will. So sometimes the information that we
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get from informants may actually be better and more objective, even if it is based on a smaller sample of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The first of these sources of information is L Data—information about your
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This note was uploaded on 05/24/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 236 taught by Professor Lucas during the Spring '11 term at Michigan State University.

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lecture2PSY236 - T hese three laws are: There are no...

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