Research Related to Personality Psychology and the Important Role of Research in Explaining it
In this text, we are learning together about personality psychology and the important role of research in explaining it. For this assignment, we read a Finnish study on how personality characteristics affect moods and are considering it against some of the ideas and concepts we have been learning in our text, our Ted Talk, and our discussion board.
Personality was measured here by prompted responses to an electronic device taken throughout the day of a test subject’s real, situational, daily experiences, and was scored using a Likert scale with seven responses (Komulainen, 2014). Half of the one hundred and four participants were given PsyMate devices, and the other half used an Android application to provide accuracy and ecological validity. Both methods were touchscreen options and prompted participants to give real-time, real-world feedback to build data that researchers would then analyze (Komulainen, 2014). In our text, we learned about some best practices for personality research.
In this study, the real-world strategy of open practices has been used. The materials and methods of the researchers were made apparent and explained thoroughly. This study did not use the ‘many labs’ approach, nor a very large sample of test subjects. If the study were to be repeated in other countries at the same time, that would be an example of the ‘many labs’ best practices approach. Because our sample study is just a single study, the best practice of being able to replicate the data would not even apply. Another best practice is meta-analysis, which is a study of studies in order to glean information from the total data (Twenge, 2016). This method was used within the study because researchers used metadata to compare their hypothesis and results and check whether or not they were seeing correlations or associations that had previously been found in other studies.
The Big Five characteristics most often studied in Personality Psychology spell out the acronym OCEAN (Little). These characteristics are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeability, and neuroticism. In the study, response questions measured these traits and found many correlations and associations in the data. The study showed that there are significant correlations between conscientiousness and neuroticism with several, if not all, of the features of daily emotional processes. The authors write, “Our results indicate that personality features can influence several different daily emotional processes” (Komulainen, 2014).
Researchers found that subjects who tested higher in openness showed a higher reactivity to daily stressors. Still, they admitted that this could be due to the natural interconnectedness of the trait of openness and emotionally charged feelings such as imagination and creativity (Komulainen, 2014). Answers to conscientiousness questions from patients demonstrated it as the second most influential trait associated with emotional processes. It was the only trait that predicted lower reactivity to daily life events. In my understanding of this study, extraversion was not specifically tested. Researchers inferred from their data that a person who is more agreeable has good protection only against social stressors in daily life (Komulainen, 2014). This study demonstrated that higher levels of neuroticism in patients had the largest correlation with daily emotional processes and predicted more significant emotional reactions and higher vulnerability in daily life (Komulainen, 2014).
Because this study was conducted on a specific group population, Finnish young adults, the results probably do not translate to all world populations. For example, America is known to have a very individualistic culture (Twenge, 2016). However, if the results did apply to other world populations, this would demonstrate the concepts of reliability, validity, and predictive validity that we have learned in this module from our text. That is, the study would be considered consistent, measure what it is supposed to measure, and the measurements would correlate to a concrete outcome (Twenge, 2016).
Understanding whether or not there is a role of personality traits in mood was the objective of this study. If we wanted to go a step further, we could design a study to use this study’s mood information to predict behavior. Predictive validity is the extent to which scores on a test relate to a concrete outcome (Twenge, 2016). Employers often use personality questionnaires to evaluate a prospective employee’s possible future job performance. I think it would be wonderful to be able to test for future criminal behavior. Participants in the survey portion of the study would probably be less likely to answer questions in a socially desirable way, so perhaps that would help to validate the data. It would be hard to be really certain of the future outcome, since no one can ever know exactly what someone will do or say in a specific scenario, which is the basis of the person-situation debate in personality psychology.
Dr. Little even said in his TED Talk that we should be asking each other about our personal projects because these represent our true selves as much as personality, and can often override our basic personalities (Little). He used himself as an example and stated that although he is an extreme introvert, he has a personal project to profess to students and so, that is what he does, even though it is contrary to type. This brings to mind a futuristic movie, “Minority Report,” in which criminal behavior can be predicted by personality tests and is therefore monitored by a police agency. The hero eventually finds himself on the wrong side of the law and running for his life because of a computer system’s criminal projection of him committing a murder. A character makes this observation of the criminal justice system: “Science has stolen most of our miracles” (Spielberg, 2002). Testing to predict behavior is very interesting and could potentially be very helpful, but results would have to be taken as a prediction, not as fact.
This class is so varied and eye-opening in terms of the way research is conducted and applied in human personality. The research study we added to our knowledge base this week was about identifying what traits affect emotions in our daily lives. We explored some themes from Module One on personality characteristics and research methods from our text. Research methods are so much more vital and complex than I realized.
Komulainen, E., Meskanen, K., Lipsanen, J., Lahti, J. M., Jylha, P., Melartin, T., & Ekelund, J. (2014). The effect of personality on daily life emotional processes.
Little, B. TED Talk: Brian Little – Who are you really? Retrieved from Module 1. https://www.ted.com/talks/brian_little_who_are_you_really_the_puzzle_of_personality .
Spielberg, S. (Director). (2002, June 21). Minority report[Video file]. Retrieved September 2, 2018, from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/minority_report/quotes/
Twenge, J. M., and Campbell, W. K. (2016). Revel for Personality Psychology: Understanding Yourself and Others.
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