Proposed theoretical model for the big five

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Proposed Theoretical Model For The Big Five Characterizing people come in different types: o Some are descriptive labels – how someone tends to act o Terms that refer to psychological properties that a person is said to possess – the mental structures of processes that cause a person’s behavior Five-factor theory : claims that five primary traits are more than mere descriptions of ways that people differ o Traits are seen as things that really exist, a psychological structure that everyone possesses different amounts of o Traits also influence a person’s psychological development o All individuals possess the five factors McCrae and Costa believed that factors have a biological basis o Behavioral differences linked to the traits are determined by genetic influences on neural structures, brain chemistry, etc o Believed that inherited biology (nature) determines personality o Social experience (nurture) has little effect o External influences are do not affect traits! – relatively unique claim of five-factor theory Second unique feature of theory – traits are factors that affect the life course of every individual o Traits are thought of as tendencies Problems:
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o Difficult to link traits to dynamic processes o Research findings contradict the idea that traits are not affected by social factors Cultural changes may have caused changes in personality, ie: sociocultural changes associated with higher levels of anxiety o Claims that all individuals possess the five factors Does not follow from the available research evidence Only summarizes the population at large, but does not demonstrate that every individual possesses all the factors Growth and Development There is much stability with people’s score on the Big Five measures However, people at different ages are more consistent within their own age group o 30 year old vs 70 year old, energetic vs still energetic, but much lesser o Teenagers are more likely to score high on N and E o Adults tend to be more A and C and lower in N, E, and O o People become increasingly conscientiousness with age These findings may be more ambiguous, as it depends on generation effects o Differences in growing up during WWII or the 60s Age differences reflect intrinsic maturation, just like other biologically based systems Self-ratings on the factor of agreeableness increase when raising children o Contradicts the five-factor theory’s notion that personality trait levels are entirely inherited and unaffected by social experiences Trait research has increasingly provided evidence that personality develops across the course of life as a result of interactions with an individual’s social environments Seven child factors found in US o Instead of E, sociability and activity o Instead of N, fearfulness and irritability Data concludes o (1) Personality is more stable over short periods of time than over long periods of time o
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Christopher Reinemann
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