Differential Psychology

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Differential Psychology

Differential Psychology – the psychology of individual differences – describes and explains how and why people differ from each other psychologically. In other words, it is interested in what makes us individuals. The two main topics in differential psychology are personality and intelligence. Differential psychologists also study moods, attitudes, and people’s interests. They study the development of intelligence and personality in children and adults, and how these change with age. This includes the contribution of genetics and environments to differences in intelligence and personality. Differential psychologists are also interested in how intelligence and personality are associated with real life outcomes, such as health, work, and education. These introductory lectures introduce the concepts of personality and intelligence, summarise the history of these topics in psychology, and present findings to demonstrate the current scientific state of the fields. The Psychology Department at the University of Edinburgh contains the largest group of differential psychologists in the United Kingdom:

www.psy.ed.ac.uk/psy_research/differential_psychology_research.php

Lecture No 25
How to get inside somebody's head: Measuring psychological constructs
To study individual differences in personality and intelligence we need to find a way to measure them. This lecture will cover the basics of how we measure personality and intelligence and how we determine whether our measures are trustworthy.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
18/11/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 26
How to efficiently and comprehensively describe a person: Structures of cognitive abilities and personality traits
Individuals differ in as many different ways as you can imagine but we have limited time and resources to study this. This lecture will cover different ways that have been proposed to summarize these differences as efficiently and yet as comprehensively as possible.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
20/11/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 27
Can we tease apart nature and nurture? Genetic and environmental influences on intelligence and personality
Having measured individual differences in personality or intelligence, we wish to know *why* individuals differ from one another. This lecture will cover research that seeks to understand whether these differences come about because of different ways in which people are reared, social class, unique environmental influences, genetic influences, or some combination of these.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
22/11/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 28
Stability and change: Development, Maturity, Cognitive aging and personality change
As people age, they change in both abilities, such as intelligence, but also in their personality. However, differences are nonetheless remarkably stable. This lecture will cover how this is possible and also will review different theories for why people change.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
25/11/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 29
Galton's dangerous idea: Intelligence, personality, and life outcomes (I)
As we have discussed up until now, individual differences in intelligence and personality summarize a wide range of abilities, behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. Do these differences merely describe people or do they have far-reaching consequences? These last two lectures will cover the associations between intelligence and personality and outcomes, including, for example, success at school, job-market, relationships, and both physical and mental health.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
27/11/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Lecture No 30
Galton's dangerous idea: Intelligence, personality, and life outcomes (II)
As we have discussed up until now, individual differences in intelligence and personality summarize a wide range of abilities, behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. Do these differences merely describe people or do they have far-reaching consequences? These last two lectures will cover the associations between intelligence and personality and outcomes, including, for example, success at school, job-market, relationships, and both physical and mental health.
David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre A
29/11/2019 - 11:10am to 12:00pm
Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students should be able to understand the above-described course content. They should also be ready to understand why measuring individual differences in these traits is important and to identify problems with some studies that do not do so. They should also understand the challenges pertaining to the research into individual differences.

References: 

Lecture 25

  • Cronbach, L. J. (1957). The two disciplines of scientific psychology. American Psychologist, 12, 671-684.
  • Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological Bulletin, 52, 281-302.

Lecture 26

  • Deary, I. J. (2012). Intelligence. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 453-482. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100353
  • Digman, J. M. (1990). Personality structure: Emergence of the Five-Factor Model. Annual Review of Psychology, 41, 417-440.

Lecture 27

  • Bouchard, T. J., Jr. (2014). Genes, Evolution and Intelligence. Behavior Genetics, 44, 549-577.
  • Bouchard, T. J., Jr., & Loehlin, J. C. (2001). Genes, evolution, and personality. Behavior Genetics, 31, 243-273.

Lecture 28

  • Terracciano, A., Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (2006). Personality plasticity after age 30. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 999–1009.
  • Roberts, B. W., Wood, D., & Smith, J. L. (2005). Evaluating Five Factor Theory and social investment perspectives on personality trait development. Journal of Research in Personality, 39, 166-184.

Lectures 29 and 30

  • Deary, I. J., Weiss, A., & Batty, G. D. (2010). Intelligence and personality as predictors of illness and death. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 11, 53-79.
  • Ozer, D. J., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 401-421.

 

Further reading:

Asbury, K., & Plomin, R. (2013). G is for genes: The impact of genetics on education and achievement. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1982). An approach to the attribution of aging, period, and cohort effects. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 238-250.

Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (2002). Looking backward: Changes in the mean levels of personality traits from 80 to 12. In D. Cervone & W. Mischel (Eds.), Advances in personality science (pp. 219-237). New York, NY: Guilford.

Judge, T. A., Higgins, C. A., Thoresen, C. J., & Barrick, M. R. (1999). The Big Five personality traits, general mental ability, and career success across the life span. Personnel Psychology, 52, 621-652.

McCrae, R. R., Terracciano, A., & 78 Members of the Personality Profiles of Cultures Project. (2005). Universal features of personality traits from the observer's perspective: Data from 50 cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 547-561.

Nettle, D. (2009). Personality: What makes you the way you are. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pinker, S. (2003). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature: Penguin.

Ritchie, S. J. (2015). Intelligence: All that matters: Hodder & Stoughton.

Rowe, D. C., Vesterdal, W. J., & Rodgers, J. L. (1999). Herrnstein's syllogism: Genetic and shared environmental influences on IQ, education, and income. Intelligence, 26, 405-423.

Scarr, S., & McCartney, K. (1983). How people make their own environments: A theory of genotype -> environment effects. Child Development, 54, 424-435.

Schwartz, J. A., Savolainen, J., Aaltonen, M., Merikukka, M., Paananen, R., & Gissler, M. (2015). Intelligence and criminal behavior in a total birth cohort: An examination of functional form, dimensions of intelligence, and the nature of offending. Intelligence, 51, 109-118.

Steel, P., Schmidt, J., & Shultz, J. (2008). Refining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 138-161.

Widiger, T. A., & Trull, T. J. (1992). Personality and psychopathology: An Application of the Five-Factor Model. Journal of Personality, 60, 363-393.