Two approaches – what makes people develop in similar ways (e.g. developmental milestones; underlying processes) and what makes people different from each other (also looks at underlying processes but focuses on individuality.)
Adult personality – how people differ from each other; remains relatively stable. A tendency to behave in particular ways.
Type vs Trait theories
Ideas of type – Theophrastus (6 types); Hippocrates (4 types – choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, melancholic)
Myers-Briggs is a modern type inventory (Thinkers, Feelers, Sensers, Intuiters)
Trait theories use dimensions by which to assess personality - e.g. Neuroticism-Stability; Extraversion- Introversion. Built by statistical techniques such as factor and cluster analysis to find out which words that describe traits go together.
Three main trait theories:
Eysenck – two primary traits; introversion- extraversion, neuroticism-stability with two secondary traits of intelligence and psychoticism. Makes argument the two main traits are biologically based – nativist viewpoint (others on a continuum.)
Costa & McCrae – OCEAN/Big Five. (Tellegen MPQ similar – 11 sub factors grouped into three traits)
Cattell – 16PF – eg Reasoning; Sensitivity; Livelines
All three share view there is a limited set of stable characteristics – dimensions along which people vary. Adult personality arises from genetic predisposition combined with experience/choices made.
Idea that there is a biological basis to infant’s characters. Rutter – an abstract notion of a trait or disposition to act, evidenced by consistent qualities of behaviour over time (i.e. not just one act.)
Seen as separate from cognitive aspects of development – empirical studies show no link between temperament and intelligence, for example.
Traits defined, data gathered from large numbers of children to examine variation. This kind of research has also attempted to identify types as well (sub- groups of traits with particular high/low scores.) Quantitative methodology.
Bates suggests three broad categories: Emotional responses; attentional orientation patters; motor activity as defining behaviour in pre- school (and younger) children.
Stability – idea that if someone shows a particular characteristic, this will remain largely similar over a period of years.
Continuity – idea that similar range of behaviours indicates a characteristic at a particular age – e.g. crying = fearfulness at 18mo; verbalisation of fear at 3 y.o.
Temperament & first five years (Rothbart)
Dev. Period – Temperament component
Newborn – distress; sociability; activity; orienting & alertness; approach/withdrawal to novelty
Early infancy – above plus smiling; laughter; vocalisation; stimulus seeking/avoidance; frustration
Late infancy – as before plus inhibition of approach; effortful control; fear
Pre-school + - as before plus continued development of effortful control
Problems in the definition of temperament
McCall – no generally accepted consensus on a definition of temperament, but Bates’ categories point to the main areas a helpful theory of temperament would need to address. Temperament is a general tendency to behave in a particular way or show a specific style of behaviour.