Development of personality - AQA GCSE Psychology

Comprehensive notes of the personality chapter in the AQA GCSE Psychology specification

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Psychology ­ Unit 3 ­ Development of Personality
Key Words
Personality: the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that make an individual
Temperament: the genetic component of personality.
Longitudinal Study: a study carried out to show how behaviour changes over
Monozygotic Twins: twins developed from one fertilised egg.
Dizygotic Twins: twins developed from two separate eggs.
Type Theory: personality types are thought to be inherited; they can be
described using related traits.
Extroversion: a personality type that describes people who look to the
outside world for entertainment.
Introversion: a personality type that describes people who are content with
their own company.
Neuroticism: a personality type that describes people who are highly
emotional and show a quick, intense reaction to fear.
Personality Scales: ways of measuring personality using yes and no
Psychoticism: a third dimension identified by Eyesenck. People who score
high on this dimension are hostile, aggressive, insensitive and cruel.
APD: a condition in which the individual does not use socially acceptable
behaviour or consider the rights of others.
DSM-IV TR: lists different mental disorders and the criteria for diagnosing
Amygdala: the part of the brain involved in emotion.
Grey Matter: the cerebral cortex, also recognised as the outer layer of the
Prefrontal Cortex: the very front of the brain, which is involved in social and
moral behaviour and controls aggression.
Socioeconomic Factors: social and financial issues that can affect an
Thomas, Chess and Birch (1977)
Aim: To discover whether ways of responding to the environment remain
stable throughout life.
Method: They studied 133 children from infancy to early adulthood. The
children's behaviour was observed and their parents were interviewed. The
parents were asked about the child's routine and its reactions to change.
Results: They found that the children fell into three types: `easy', `difficult'
and `slow to warm up'. The `easy' children were happy, flexible and regular. The
`difficult' children were demanding, inflexible and cried a lot. The children that
were `slow to warm up' did not respond well to change or new experiences to
begin with, but once they had adapted, they were usually happy.

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Conclusion: These ways of responding to the environment stayed with the
children as they developed. Thomas, Chess and Birch therefore concluded that
temperament is innate.
Evaluation: As this was a longitudinal study, it leaves time for participants to
drop out, leaving alterations and problems in the results. As the participants
were middle-class Americans, the results can't be generalised. Also, the
interviews given by the parents may have been biased, to show their children
in the best light possible.…read more

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Also, behaviour was observed and recorded by the researchers and they may
have missed some key behaviours that could have produced different results to
those obtained.
Eyesenck (1947)
Aim: To investigate the personality of 700 servicemen.
Method: Each soldier completed a questionnaire. Eyesenck analysed the
results using a statistical technique called factor analysis.
Results: He identified two dimensions of personality:
extroversion-introversion and neuroticism-stability.
Conclusion: Everyone can be placed along these two dimensions of
personality. Most people lie in the middle of the scale.…read more

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Biological causes of APD
The amygdala is located in the limbic system and is in the temporal lobe of the
brain. It is involved in memory and emotion, particularly fear.
The outer layer of the brain is known as the cerebral cortex or grey matter.
This includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory
perceptions, such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions and speech.
The prefrontal cortex is located in the frontal lobe of the brain.…read more

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Raine et al (2000)
Aim: To support the theory than abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex cause
Method: MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) was used to study 21 men with
APD and a control group of 34 healthy men. The subjects were all volunteers.
Results: The APD group and an 11% reduction in prefrontal grey matter
compared with the control group.
Conclusion: APD is caused by a reduction in the brains grey matter.…read more

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Conclusion: Socioeconomic factors lead to the development of anti-social
Evaluation: As the study was not a controlled experiment, other factors (like
biological explanations) were not investigated. Also, the researchers in the
study interviewed the participants and people close to the participants; they
may have been inclined to give socially desirable answers in the interviews to
make them look better.
Elander et al (2000)
Aim: To investigate the childhood risk factors that can be used to predict
antisocial behaviour in adulthood.…read more


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