Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

10.S: Chapter Summary

  • Page ID
    16537
  • Review of Key Points

    • Allport’s approach to the study of personality emphasized the individual above all else.
    • In defining personality, Allport proposed a dynamic interaction between traits and how they affect the individual’s adjustment to his or her environment.
    • Allport defined traits as neuropsychic systems that had the effect of rendering different aspects of the environment as the same, thus guiding behavior in consistent ways (in keeping with the traits, not the environment per se).
    • Individual traits provide the basis for an idiographic approach to personality, whereas common traits relate more to the nomothetic approach.
    • Each person’s unique personality is influenced by their dispositions. An individual can be influenced by cardinal, central, or secondary dispositions.
    • As the various stages of development influence one’s personality, the unique sense of “me” or “I” that develops should be referred to as the proprium, according to Allport.
    • An adult’s motives are independent of their development, something Allport referred to as functional autonomy.
    • Allport proposed six aspects of a mature personality: an extended sense of self, personal warmth, emotional security, realistic perceptions, insight and humor, and a unifying philosophy of life.
    • In addition to personality tests, Allport valued the observation of expressive behavior and the review of personal documents (when available).
    • Allport was a deeply spiritual man, emphasizing the positive role that religion can play in peoples’ lives.
    • Allport’s personal faith, and his lifelong commitment to social ethics, led him to write one of the most significant works on prejudice ever published.
    • Cattell distinguished between traits and types, the latter being a broader term. Similarly, he distinguished between source traits and surface traits, respectively.
    • Using factor analysis, Cattell settled on sixteen factors, or source traits. He developed the 16-PF Questionnaire to measure these factors in individuals.
    • Cattell helped to establish the field of psychometry, emphasizing the need for L-data, Q-data, and T-data.
    • About the same time as Erikson, Cattell offered a lifespan theory of personality development. He proposed six stages: infancy, childhood, adolescence, maturity, middle age, and old age.
    • Eysenck used a second-order factor analysis to identify three superfactors: extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism.
    • In support of his belief in the biological/evolutionary basis for personality, Eysenck joined Harry Harlow in demonstrating that monkeys appear to have three similar factors underlying their “personalities.”
    • Some authors have suggested that Eysenck overstated the role of genetics, even based on his own data. Eysenck acknowledged such concerns, and hopefully anticipated future research that might help clarify the issue.
    • Eysenck, like Allport, was interested in practical applications of personality research. He also addressed a wide variety of controversial topics that have, at best, highly questionable evidence supporting them.
    • Costa and McCrae expanded on Eysenck’s theory, and proposed five superfactors: extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
    • They also developed the NEO-PI-R to measure these factors. The NEO-PI-R has proven robust across cultures, and research using the NEO-PI-R has supported the universality of the Five-Factor Model.
    • Despite arguments to the contrary, the majority of research shows that personality, as measured by trait theories, is highly consistent throughout adulthood.
    • Zuckerman identified a sensation seeking trait, comprised of four aspects: thrill and adventure seeking, experience seeking, disinhibition, and boredom susceptibility.
    • Zuckerman offered an alternative to the Five-Factor Model, which is quite similar, but more applicable to a wider variety of species. Once again, this supports a genetic/evolutionary perspective on the development of personality.