2017 Personality 14: Introduction to Traits/Psychometrics/The Big 5

so I want to tell you

I want to make a little announcement first.

I'm going to do a series of lectures, I think, starting in May.

Maybe at the Isabel Bader Theatre?

We're trying to look into booking that. On a, I'm

going to do a psychological interpretation of the bible from beginning

to end. That's the plan anyway. So I'm going to do that once a week.

So if you are interested in that,

I would recommend that you... (and maybe your not an that's fine obviously)

but, if you go onto my Twitter account

you can just, there's a place you can sign up

It doesn't mean that you'll attend. I'm just

trying to see if there are people who are interested. I've been

interested in doing that for a long time and so I think I'm going to try it and so.


That's the announcement. Then, is that about it?

I guess so. OK! So look we are going to switch gears today.

Um. The first half of this course, as you've

no doubt already err gathered, is...

because it's grounded essentially in clinical theories

of personality it tends more

towards the philosophical. And I told you that the reason for that was that

I regard clinical psychology as a branch of engineering

rather than a branch of science.

It's Human Engineering obviously; and because of that

it's an applied science and so that means it straddles the

ground between a science and a practice and

and it, because it's, it

involves human beings,

it necessarily involves value because

we live inside value structures;

and so the logical consequence of that is that

investigation into the philosophy of value

is necessary in order to understand clinical

Psychological theories.

Because really what you are trying to do as a clinician,

you could say that you are trying to do two things; one is to help people

have less terrible lives. But you are also trying to help them

have better lives. and there is obviously a value structure

that is inherent in that attempt

because you are moving from something of less value to something of more value

and so.. and it's best to just

to face that and all the complexities

that come along with that, head on. Now!

I think that what you do as a clinician,

to overcome what ever tendency you might have to

impose your value structure on someone is you do an awful lot of listening

And so my basic practise with people

is to say to them. "Well; obviously you are here

because you would like things to be better. But that's OK.

We can use your definition of what constitutes better.

We can use your definition of what constitutes worse.

Or we can establish that through dialogue, and negotiation.

What are you aiming at? How would you like things to be better

a year from now say? If you could have what you wanted,

if your life was put together what would that look like?

And you can have a very straight forward

discussion with people about that if you are not cram

the way that they are orienting the world into your particular perspective.

Now. That's one of the dangers of being the adherent of

a given psychological school. Now having said that.

It's also...

There was research done many years ago, showing that

if you were an eclectic psychotherapist

which means that you sort of pick and chose from different therapeutic schools.

You tended to not be as effective as you were if you were the

dedicated adherent of a given school

and I think that the reason for that is

that there are so many schools of psychological thought

that if you say that you pick an choose from all of them, what that

really means is that you don't know anything about any of them.

And then there's also the additional


(maybe, you might call it) that

if someone comes to you and they're very chaotic and confused.

Helping them impose ANY STRUCTURE

onto their life is likely to be an improvement over no structure at all.

And you can think about that in a Piagetian sense, is that

you know you’re going to be happier playing a game, rather than no game.

And there's many games that you can play

that are better than no game. And so if you go to

a therapist that has a particular view point

and they help you structure your understanding of the world

within the confines of a given clinical model;

and you came in there very chaotic and uncertain,

then maybe that's going to be a lot better for you than just floundering.

And I think that there's some real truth in that.

And I think that that's part and parcel of the same, er;

of another, what, you might call it

"reasonable observation about maturation" is that

it's very necessary for people at some point in there life

to dedicate themselves to a single game, of some sort.

Which is kind of what you are doing at University.

You Know, you have to become 'one thing' at some point in your life;

and the sacrifice of course is that you give up all the other things that you could become.

But you don't really have a choice because

if you don't decide voluntarily to become one thing. You know

to become a disciplined adherent of some specific


practise or profession or view point

then you risk just ageing Chaotically

And you don't get away with not ageing.

So you might as well age into something

that's actually something

rather than just becoming an old child

Which is really... Which is not a good thing.

It's not a good thing to see. Especialy when people

hit about 40. It's not, it's not pretty,

For them or anyone else.

And even at 30, it's getting pretty old at that point.

40; it's like almost irreparable at 40.

And the reason for that is, you start running out of opportunities

when you're young and stupid people don't care

because they think, you know, whatever. You've got decades of

of possibilities still ready to unfold in you,

but if you are in the same unspecified position at 40

people are much less forgiving

especially if they are going

to hire someone who doesn't know

what's going on. Or employ them or sorry engage them is some sort of

productive activity.

They might as well take a chance on someone young and full of

potential rather than someone

who has really lived more than half of their life already

because of course you have, by the time you are 40. OK.

So, anyway, so that is with regards to putting the first

half of the course to bed so to speak.

The second half

is more scientific.

and there is a bit of a gap and

it's a bit of a gap I am trying to resolve conceptually

because now we move into more biological models

and into models that are psychometric and Psychometrics

is the psychological study of the study

of psychological measurement. And now if you are a scientist

there's a couple of things that you are

obliged to do if you are a scientist

one is to utilise the scientific method that's usually the

experimental method where you take 2 groups

randomly selected, apply a

manipulation to one of them and not

equivalent manipulation of a different sort to another;

hypothesize about what the outcome is likely to be and then test it

ah, that's the technical experimental model anyways

you're also obliged as a scientist

to come up with

a measurement of your, of your

to come up with a measurement, let's just put it that way

that's reliable and valid. Okay, and what a

reliable measure is one that measures the same way

across multiple measurements. So, for example,

you wouldn't want to take a ruler that's made out of flexible

rubber to measure things with because it

wouldn't give you the same measurement if you put it in different situations

That's reliability, and it's a term you need to know. It means that the

measurement tool produces stable results across

different instances of the measurement. Without that,

you don't have a measurement. And the other


factor with regards to

a measurement is that it has to be valid, which means that

it actually has to measure what it preports to measure and it

actually has to be usable for an array of

different purposes as a consequence, so,

you might think well the purpose of scientific endeavor is to predict and to

control, you could say understand, predict, and control but

understanding, prediction, and control are all

manifestations of the same underlying

throughly designed comprehension. Now,

here's what's happened with the measurement of personality

It's a funny

story in some sense, a peculiar story, because

in many ways, what we've come to understand about personality

from a scientific perspective, developed

in a very atheoretical manner. It's not very common

in scientific endeavor that that occurs, is that

what we know about personality emerged

from, I would say, statistically rigorous observation,

without it being the consequence of any real model.

So, often, what happens,

in scientific endeavor is that someone generates a model first, a theoretical understanding,

and then they generate measurement tools based on that theoretical understanding

and then they test the measurement tools to see if

well if the measurement tools perform properly, and if they

fail at least to invalidate the underlying theory

That isn't what happened with psychometrics.

Except in a loose way, so here's the loose

theory, and you've got to get this exactly right

to understand this properly. You've got to get it exactly right, and it's

really important, because, insofar as you guys

are interested in psychology, especially in the

experimental end of psychology, measurement is everything

and so much of what psychologists publish and

write about is incorrect, and the reason it's incorrect

is cause they do not have their measurements properly

instantiated. It's a massive

problem especially in social psychology. In fact it's

probably a fatal problem, in that most of the things that

social psychologists measure don't exist.

And social psychology has been rife with scandals for the last

4 or 5 years, and there's good reason for it

but a big part of the problem is is that, the measurement

that people are not stringent and careful enough about their measurements

so we're going to walk through this very very carefully, so I'm going to

set forward a set of propositions and you have to

think about it, cause each of them are...they're axiomatic, so you

sort of have to accept them before you go on to the next step.

And there's certainly room to question them.

But here's the bare bones of the psychometric model of personality

so we'll call it roughly the big 5 model

and the reason it's called the big 5 model is because

the psychometric investigations have indicated that

you can specify human personality along 5

basic dimensions. You might ask well what

exactly is personality, and well

that's partly what we have been trying to wrestle with in the entire course so far

and I would say

umm what exactly is a trait. Think of an trait as an element of

personality; and I think the best way to think about a trait is

as a sub-personality.

So you are made up of sub-personalities

that are integrated into something

vaguely resembling a unity. But the unity is diverse.

There are describable stable elements that characterize you.

That are elements of your being.

So for example, here are some common ones.

I would say, are you so sure ,or would you rather be alone?

So here is a good question for you to define

decide whether you are an extrovert or an introvert.

It's pretty straightforward. It is the first major dimension.

Basically if you take any set of questions,

about, any set of questions that

could be applied descriptively to a human being,

and you subject them to a statistical process

called factor analysis.

You can determine how they group together. So, what I would be interested in,

Let's say I ask you a hundred questions.