Personality Topics (PSYL10146)

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Personality Topics (PSYL10146)


Semester 1, Wednesday 2.10pm-4pm
BPS core area – Individual Differences, Biological, Developmental

The course gives an overview of major topics in current personality research. Historical personality theories are not be covered. Primary focus is on trait theories of personality differences, but variability within individuals over time and across situations, assessment, development, genetic and environmental interplay, involvement in life outcomes, and cross-cultural patterns is also addressed. The first six weeks are lectures introducing major theories, topics to be debated by the students, and a debating assessment. After that, sessions will feature student debates on specified topics to build critical thinking, verbal expression, and argumentation skills and lecture, beginning with the debate. Students will be randomly allocated to eight groups that will be randomly paired to debate assigned topics during the remaining class periods. During the last third of each of these four sessions, each student will write a 150-word summary defending one of the positions taken by the week’s debaters to consolidate the learned material. Each summary will be independently peer-marked by two other students at the end of the session, to consolidate the material further. 

Assessment: 30% Presentation (Debate). 70% Exam (Multiple choice questions (MCQ) + Essay).


Conceptualizations of personality traits
This lecture describes the overall ambitions of personality research, some of its general achievements, but also study limitations.
7 George Square, Room F21
19/09/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Measurement of personality and other hot research questions
This lecture addresses the fact that, despite considerable progress, there are many central topics in personality research that await tackling. Some of the work can be done without major investments and often using already existing resources, which makes the research field very accessible. Reviewing research problems will give students an opportunity to learn about existing knowledge and gaps in it.
7 George Square, Room F21
26/09/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Underpinnings of traits
This lecture is about the genetic and environmental transactions that contribute to individual differences in personality, and about personality development over the life course.
7 George Square, Room F21
03/10/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Correlates of traits
One of the ambitions of personality research is providing models that can predict and perhaps even explain variations in what becomes of people in life (outcomes). This lecture addresses what we have learned and what we are still learning about that.
7 George Square, Room F21
10/10/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Beyond traits
This lecture is about some cutting-edge developments in personality research that attempt to move beyond describing normal individual differences in broad trait dimensions.
7 George Square, Room F21
17/10/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Review, consolidation, and preparation for the debates
7 George Square, Room F21
31/10/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Learning Outcomes: 


 Awareness of the main concepts of personality psychology and major theories
 Awareness of major findings in personality behaviour genetics and ability to interpret them (critically) in relation to current personality theories
 Awareness of major methods for studying personality trait development and major findings, along with their limitations
 Awareness of relations between personality traits and other constructs and outcomes and ability to interpret causal inferences critically
 Understanding of major strengths and limitations of trait theories of personality, and awareness of alternative approaches and their strengths and limitations.


By the end of the course, students should know:

Main concepts and theoretical positions in current personality psychology

Major findings in personality genetics and biology and their theoretical relevance

Major findings pertaining to personality trait development

Major findings regarding the predictive validity of personality traits

Some alternative conceptualizations of personality beside the trait approach 




The main textbook

Matthews, G., Deary, I.J. & Whiteman, M.C. (2009). Personality Traits. 3rd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Funder, D. C. (2016). The Personality Puzzle. 7th Edition. London: W. W. Norton & Co.

Johnson, W. (2014). Developing Difference. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Olson, M. H., & Hergenhahn, B. R. An Introduction to Theories of Personality. 8th Edition. London: Prentice Hall.

Additional and/or background reading (especially good for thinking about the essay)

**Essential readings

**Funder, D. C. (1991). Global Traits: A Neo-Allportian Approach to Personality. Psychological Science, 2, 31–39.

Briley, D. A., & Tucker-Drob, E. M. (2014). Genetic and environmental continuity in personality development: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1303–1331. 

**Turkheimer, E., Pettersson, E., & Horn, E. E. (2014). A phenotypic null hypothesis for the genetics of personality. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 515–540.

**Caspi, A., & Roberts, B. W. (2001). Personality development across the life course: The argument for change and continuity. Psychological Inquiry, 12, 49–66.

**Krueger, R. F., and Johnson, W. (2017). Behavior genetics and personality: Ongoing efforts to integrate nature and nurture. In Pervin, L. A., John, O. P. & Robins, R. W. (Eds.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research (4th Ed.). New York: Guilford. 

Harris, M. A., Brett, C. E., Johnson, W., and Deary, I. J. (2016). Personality stability from age 14 to age 77 years. Psychology and Aging, 31, 862-874

Harris, M. A., Brett, C. E., Starr, J. M., Deary, I. J., & Johnson, W. (2016). Personality and other lifelong influences on older-age health and wellbeing: Preliminary findings in two Scottish samples. European Journal of Personality, 30, 438-455

Durbin, C. E., Hicks, B. H., Blonigen, D., Johnson, W., Iacono, W. G., & McGue, M. (2016). Personality trait change across late childhood to young adulthood: Evidence for nonlinearity and sex differences in change. European Journal of Personality, 30, 31-44.

Mõttus, R. (2017). Five-Factor Theory and personality development. In J. Specht (Ed.), Personality development across the life-span (pp. 87–100). San Diego, CA: Elsevier.

**Johnson, W., Hicks, B. M., McGue, M., & Iacono. W. G. (2007). Most of the girls are alright but some aren't: Personality trajectory groups from ages 14 to 24 and some associations with outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 266-284

**Johnson, W., McGue, M., & Krueger, R. F. (2005). Personality stability in late adulthood: A behavioral genetic analysis. Journal of Personality, 73, 523-551.

**Roberts, B. W., Kuncel, N. R., Shiner, R., Caspi, A., & Goldberg, L. R. (2007). The power of personality. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 313–345.

**Mõttus, R. (2016). Towards more rigorous personality trait–outcome research. European Journal of Personality, 30, 292–303.

**Cramer, A. O. J., van der Sluis, S., Noordhof, A., Wichers, M., Geschwind, N., Aggen, S. H., … Borsboom, D. (2012). Dimensions of normal personality as networks in search of equilibrium: You can’t like parties if you don’t like people. European Journal of Personality, 26, 414–431.

**DeYoung, C. G. (2015). Cybernetic Big Five Theory. Journal of Research in Personality, 56, 33–58.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (2008). Empirical and theoretical status of the Five-Factor Model of personality traits. In B. Boyle, G. Matthews, & D. Saklofske (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Personality Theory and Assessment: Volume 1 — Personality theories and models (pp. 273–295). London: SAGE.

**Fleeson, W., & Jayawickreme, E. (2015). Whole Trait Theory. Journal of Research in Personality, 56, 82–92. 

**Roberts, B. W. (2017). A revised sociogenomic model of personality traits. Journal of Personality, 86, 23-35. 


Additional Information: 


Components of Assessment: 

Examination worth 70% of the course held during the winter exam period (8 - 21 December 2018), 30% in-class debate presentation. 

Formative Feedback Event (Nature and Timing): 

Multiple-choice quizzes at the end of each lecture class, with correct answers posted after class on Learn. Each debate group will receive feedback on their debate preparation during an office session and on their debate arguments immediately (within the class session) following the debate, both by the instructor and fellow students (which may serve as input for their essays)