Personality psychology is the study of the person. This typically involves the study of how personality characteristics relate to each other, how they develop, what causes them, what they cause, and how they combine dynamically to create what we call a person. We will start and end the course with the question, “What is a person?” In between we will explore many ways that psychological science addresses that question. It’s one thing to observe the person from the outside, and another to get an understanding of how that individual perceives his or her own life—i.e., the person’s self-identity. Personality psychology aims to do both, because both objective and subjective factors influence the persons we become. When studying personality in this class, we view the individual person not as a static individual entity in merely the present moment. Instead, we view the person from the perspective of a lifelong process of development that is embedded in interactive contexts of families, friends, communities, and cultures (with their political, religious, educational, commercial, artistic, and other institutions)—all of which evolves dynamically over the course of history. All this is part of the study of personality, and all of it makes us who we are, whether we think about it or not. It’s my aim for this course to make us more aware of how these kinds of life forces operate and how to study these forces scientifically, ultimately toward a greater understanding of ourselves and others.
Part 1 - Hypothesis Formation
Your hypothesis will involve a prediction of how you expect two variables,
which represent two personality characteristics in this study, to correlate.
An overview of the variables in this study appears in the notes from class.
The links below to the actual survey items will give you a sense of how
the personality characteristics are measured:
The articles below provide a conceptual background on the measures in
Part 2 - Gathering Data
I will send you an email with a link to the survey, which is posted on SurveyMonkey. After finding two students who commit to taking the survey, send each of them an email (individually, not in a group email) with the link to the survey. Be sure to tell them that, if they must stop in the middle of the survey and return to it later, then they must access the survey from the original link that you sent them to pick up where they left off. Otherwise they will have to start over.
Important rule of research ethics: You are not to let anyone know whom you have recruited to participate in this study. Letting someone else know who is in the study is a serious breach of confidentiality, which is among the highest concerns in research ethics.
Part 3 - Data Analysis & Writing
How to write the report: You are to follow
APA format for the structure of the paper. The paper should have four
sections: Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion. You are responsible
for knowing how to write these sections. The best way to do this is to
read below and to look up research articles on your own—e.g., the
ones you can download above—to get a sense for what kinds of information
go in what section. You do not need to cite outside references other
than the articles for the measures about which you're writing (see downloadable
articles above) and the textbook for any other information about your
measures. You may rely on the course textbook for any background information,
provided that you cite it. Your job for this paper is to create a coherent
main idea, form a hypothesis that involves two or more predictions, demonstrate
how you measured it, report the statistical findings, and then provide
an integrated discussion of why the findings turned out as they did. To
see what Method, Results, and Discussion sections look like, take a look
at the articles linked above.
The Introduction should clearly and concisely state your main idea (i.e., the hypothesis) for the paper. The Introduction should state the hypothesis as well as a brief rationale for it, just like you did for Part 1 of this project. However, for Part 1 your hypothesis consisted of a single prediction between two variables. For the paper, your hypothesis should include two or more predictions. You may use exactly the same prediction that you used in Part I, but here you add another prediction (perhaps even using one of the same variables but in relation to another variable). Or you may create two entirely new predictions. Your hypothesis is to incorporate both predictions. In other words, don't make two predictions that are unrelated. Instead make two predictions that have some thread running through them. Your hypothesis is that thread. An excellent paper will address an overarching main idea that runs through the two predictions, and the entire paper revolves around that idea and predictions. Remember: Your job is to provide a coherent paper that is anchored by the ideas in your introduction (see "Notes on organization and coherence" below). Otherwise, the paper will come across as sounding like two papers just thrown together.
The Method section should have the following subsections (labeled with headings in your paper as such; see research articles below): Participants, Procedure, and Measures. The Participants subsection should describe how many participants were in the study as well as descriptive statistics on what percentage was male or female, what percentage was in each year of college, and what percentage of participants was in each of the different categories of ethnicity. (If your hypothesis happens to involve a demographic variable of another sort, you should also include the frequencies of that variable.) The Procedure subsection should describe how the data were collected. The Measures subsection should describe the survey’s questionnaires that were used to test your hypothesis. Again, aside from the demographic information just mentioned, you should only describe the measures that are used to test your hypothesis. To describe a measure, give the name of the measure, how many questions (called "items") are on in it, what scale is used to rate each item (e.g., 1 to 7 or 1 to 5), and a brief description of the personality characteristic that is being assessed by the measure. You do not need to report things like internal validity. You can download the questionnaire (see below) to review the items if you like. Be sure to cite the measures in APA style (see examples of citations and references below in the instructions for the References section).
The Results section should present only the findings that relate to the predictions you described in the Introduction and that were assessed by measures explained in the Method section. The Results section should have two (or three) subsections, depending on your predictions (we'll cover how that works in class). Subsections should be labeled in your paper as such: either "Descriptive Statistics" and "Correlations" or "Descriptive Statistics" and "t-Tests" (or all three, if your predictions require that you use both correlations and t-tests). In the Descriptive Statistics section, you should report the mean (i.e., the average score), standard deviation (this gives a sense for how much the participants scores were the same as or different from the mean), and the range of scores (i.e., the minimum and maximum scores). In the Correlations and/or t-Test section(s), you should report the correlations for the variables mentioned in your introduction. Refer to the instructions in class on how to read and report statistics.
The Discussion section is where you write about your conclusions from the findings. Here you describe your interpretation of what the findings mean, why you think the findings turned out as they did (with greater elaboration than in the Introduction), and what you think the findings suggest about personality. You might also describe some limitations to this study or cautions on interpreting the results.
The References section should include the three or four articles from which the measures in your paper are taken. References should be in APA style (except that you do not need to include DOI).
Notes on citations and references: Citations
appear in the body of the text and should mention only the last name(s)
of the author(s) of a particular article. References appear in the References
section and involve more information about the article. When
should you cite a reference? Whenever you use an idea that
is not your own, you should cite the reference of that idea. For this
paper, if you are drawing on ideas from class about how personality characteristics
work, then simply put a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence,
like the one at the end of the sentence you are now reading (class lecture).
If you're drawing on ideas from the text, use a citation like the one
in this sentence (McAdams, 2009). You MUST at least cite the appropriate
articles in the Measures subsection of the Method section. There you need
to cite the source of the measure only once. Cite them in parentheses
at the end of the sentence in which you are first describing the measure,
as shown in this sentence (Smith, 2010). Do not name the article title
or the journal title in the text of your paper, as that info is in the
How I Grade the Paper: The paper grade is based
on the paper's logic, coherence, organization, and insight. The grade
is not based on whether your hypothesis works out. However, if your hypothesis
reveals a lack of understanding of the personality characteristics we
covered in class, this will count against your grade. In other words,
part of your job is to understand the concepts and measures you're using.
Note on organization and coherence: The introduction
(and thus the hypothesis) is what drives the entire paper. Everything
in the rest of the paper--methods, results, discussion--should deal directly
with the main ideas in the introduction. For example, the reader should
not read about measures in the Method section that are unrelated to the
hypotheses that were stated in the introduction. Similarly, the reader
should not read about statistics in the Results section that come from
measures that were not explained in the Method section. Finally, the reader
should not read in the Discussion section about other correlations from
this study. If you want to talk about other findings, weave them into
your entire paper, starting with the introduction. The paper
should be 3 pages maximum, double-spaced. It
is due on the date specified in the schedule below.
RESEARCH REVIEW PAPER
For this paper you are to create and communicate a well-informed, new idea or perspective on a specific aspect of personality. This idea or perspective must be well reasoned and firmly grounded in existing research. We will spend time in class later in the semester talking about how to do this paper (make sure you attend; it's a difficult assignment).
How to choose a topic: You are encouraged to pick a topic of personal interest that relates somehow to personality psychology. You are also encouraged to start by thinking broadly and creatively about your own personal interests—the topic need not be a “textbook” topic—and only then look for some tie to personality. If you want help coming up with a topic that interests you or refining your topic, let me know.
How to find research articles: This paper is
to be based on 3 articles that report on empirical research and that appear
in academic, peer-reviewed journals (not newspapers, magazines, websites,
etc). You may use only academic articles that either (1) present original
research or (2) present a statistical meta-analysis of original research
from various articles. Thus, you may not use purely theoretical articles,
literature-review articles (unless they that present original research
or statistical meta-analyses), commentaries, or other essay-type articles,
even if they appear in peer-reviewed, academic journals. Use PsycINFO
to find peer-reviewed articles. Some tips for using PsycINFO:
How to write the paper: This is not like a
book report, where you simply summarize the research articles. You are
to form an idea of your own that integrates the three research articles.
This idea must be firmly grounded in the research you present. Your article
is the piece of writing that links the three articles, so you are to be
the one who creates the main idea or thread that ties the articles together.You
are required to use a rigid structure to organize your paper. This structure
forces you to pour your creativity into the ideas, not the organization
of the paper. This structure will help you organize your thoughts in a
way that is required for scientific writing—plus it provides a good
basic structure for thinking systematically and for writing about fact-based
opinions in general. The sections of your paper should be:
Citations: Only use the last name(s) of the
author and publication year. Sentences that don't use the author name(s)
as part of the sentence are cited in parentheses, as shown in this sentence
that you're now reading (Smith, 2010). If the author name is part of the
sentence, then do this: Smith (2010) found that... Include a page number
only for quotes (Smith, 2010, p. 395). Don't write out the article title
or the journal title in the text of your paper; that info is in the references
Be sure to include a copy of the first page of each article with your paper! The page should show the article's abstract.
Other important considerations: The grading key gives more detail (download it!). The paper should be 4-5 pages, double-spaced. Remember to give yourself enough time for this project: You will need to have a very well-organized paper in order to cover the necessary ground in such a short paper without sacrificing substance. I strongly recommend having your topic and articles chosen well before it is due. The paper is due on the date specified in the schedule below. This paper is worth 100 points. Be sure to download the Grading Key.
Your job is to show me that you grasped key ideas and theories of this course and that you can integrate them into a conceptual model of what personhood is. You are to put forth a model of personhood that is your own but that is supported and shaped by concepts from the course. Naturally it is impossible to write about everything that we covered in this course. That means you'll have to select theories and research to support your model of what a person is. There is no set number of theories that you must address; quality matters more than quantity. You do not need to cite sources in APA format, although a good paper will name the specific theories, theorists, or bodies of research that we covered in class and in the readings.
Part of the purpose of this essay is for you to step back from the course material, rather than to approach it in the detail-oriented way of studying for a test. Like the other papers, you are to present your own ideas but only after grounding them in research. Unlike the other papers, this paper involves a higher level of analysis, because you're covering more ground. Here you're addressing the grand question of "What is a person?" instead of a specific question about some aspect of personality. The final essay is due by email on your exam day (see schedule below).
Also, be sure to NAME YOUR FILE as YOUR LAST NAME ONLY (plus extension), for example: Smith.doc. The paper is worth 100 points.
Cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of dishonesty. Plagiarism is grounds for getting 0 points (not just an F) on any assignment. See UD’s policy on plagiarism and its penalties in the Student Handbook. If you have any questions, ask. Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty that I take very seriously.
UD's Honor Pledge (which you have taken). Plagiarism
is just one issue dealing with academic ethics. See the honor code in
the student handbook that you as a UD student have taken. The honor code
Assistance. Please let me know if you would like any form of assistance or accommodations in this class. Feel free to call or email me for an individual appointment, or stop by during my office hours. UD asks that we state the following. To request reasonable accommodations due to disability, please contact the Learning Teaching Center (LTC). If you have a form indicating that you have a disability that requires reasonable accommodations, please present it to me so that we may discuss your needs.
Attendance. Although you will not be graded for attendance, students find it very difficult to do well on my exams if they miss classes, since my exams are based not on the memorization of facts but on the ability to integrate information—a skill we develop in class.
Questions. If you have a question, please ask. I am happy to address questions in class, in my office, or by email about how to do an assignment, study for a test, etc. However, if the question deals with material explained in this syllabus, read about it first. Also, do not email me to calculate your course grade. It is your responsibility to keep track of this. The grade is a matter of points. If you want to know what grade is possible for you, just do the math.
*"3.2" means that you are only required to read the second major section within Chapter 3. The same logic applies to similarly noted readings