Individual Differences and Personality

Individual Differences and Personality

2nd Edition - March 21, 2013

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  • Author: Michael Ashton
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123914705

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How do we come to be who we are? Why do we differ in our personalities? How do these differences matter in life? Individual Differences and Personality aims to describe how and why personality varies among people. Unlike books that focus on individual theorists, this book focuses on current research and theory on the nature of personality and related individual differences. The book begins by discussing how personality is measured, the concept of a personality trait, and the basic dimensions of personality. This leads to a discussion of the origins of personality, with descriptions of its developmental course, its biological causes, its genetic and environmental influences, and its evolutionary function. The concept of a personality disorder is then described, followed by a discussion of the influence of personality on life outcomes in relationships, work, and health. Finally, the book examines the important differences between individuals in the realms of mental abilities, of beliefs and attitudes, and of behavior.

Key Features

  • Presents a scientific approach to personality and related individual differences, as well as theory and research on the fundamental questions about human psychological variation
  • New edition presents findings from dozens of new research studies of the past six years
  • Includes new chapter on vocational interests and a revised chapter on personality disorders reflecting DSM-5 formulation
  • Contains streamlined descriptions of measurement concepts and heritability research
  • Includes various boxes containing interesting asides that help to maintain the student’s attention


Undergraduate and graduate level courses in personality

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments



    The Study of Personality

    The Universal, the Unique, and the In-Between

    Idiographic Versus Nomothetic Approaches

    Outline of this Book

    Chapter 1. Basic Concepts in Psychological Measurement

    1.1 Some Simple Statistical Ideas

    1.2 Assessing Quality of Measurement: Reliability and Validity

    1.3 Methods of Measurement: Self- and Observer Reports, Direct Observations, Biodata

    1.4 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 2. Personality Traits and the Inventories that Measure Them

    2.1 The Idea of a Personality Trait

    2.2 Personality Traits and Other Psychological Characteristics

    2.3 Do Personality Traits Exist?

    2.4 Measuring Traits by Self- or Observer Report: Structured Personality Inventories

    2.5 Strategies of Personality Inventory Construction

    2.6 Self- and Observer Reports on Personality Inventory Scales

    2.7 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 3. Personality Structure: Classifying Traits

    3.1 Which Traits to Measure? Completeness without Redundancy

    3.2 A Gentle Introduction to Factor Analysis

    3.3 Factor Analysis of Personality Traits: How to Find a Representative Set of Traits?

    3.4 Lexical Studies in the English Language: The Big Five Personality Factors

    3.5 Lexical Studies in Many Languages: The HEXACO Personality Factors

    3.6 What it all Means: A Few Dimensions, but Many Personalities

    3.7 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 4. Developmental Change and Stability of Personality

    4.1 Defining Change and Stability

    4.2 Developmental Changes in Mean Levels of Personality Traits

    4.3 Stability of Traits Across the Years (and the Life Span)

    4.4 Personality in Childhood and Infancy: Measurement and Structure

    4.5 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 5. Biological Bases of Personality

    5.1 Early Ideas: The Four “Humors” and Personality

    5.2 Neurotransmitters

    5.3 Brain Structures

    5.4 Hormones

    5.5 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 6. Genetic and Environmental Influences on Personality

    6.1 The Question: Nature versus Nurture

    6.2 Examining the Similarity of Relatives

    6.3 Separating Heredity and Environment

    6.4 The Answers

    6.5 Assumptions Underlying Heritability Studies in General

    6.6 Assumptions Underlying Twin-Based Heritability Studies in Particular

    6.7 Effects of the Unique Environment on Personality? Parental Treatment, Peer Groups, and Birth Order

    6.8 Summary and Conclusions

    6.9 Appendix: Difficulties in Separating the Effects of Heredity and Environment

    Chapter 7. The Evolutionary Function of Personality

    7.1 The Idea of Evolution by Natural Selection

    7.2 Why Are We Not All the Same? Fluctuating Optimum and Frequency Dependence

    7.3 Adaptive Trade-offs between High and Low Levels of the HEXACO Personality Factors

    7.4 The Operation of the Fluctuating Optimum and Frequency Dependence: Some Examples

    7.5 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 8. Personality Disorders

    8.1 The Idea of a Personality Disorder

    8.2 The DSM-5 Personality Disorders

    8.3 An Alternative System for Personality Disorders

    8.4 Origins of Personality Disorders: Developmental Change and Stability, Biological Bases, Heredity and Environment, and Evolution

    8.5 Treatment of Personality Disorders

    8.6 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 9. Personality and Life Outcomes

    9.1 Does Personality Predict Features of One’s Life Story?

    9.2 Relationships and Marriage

    9.3 Friendships and Other Peer Relationships

    9.4 Health-Related Outcomes

    9.5 Academic Performance

    9.6 Job Performance

    9.7 Law-Abidingness versus Criminality

    9.8 Life Satisfaction

    9.9 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 10. Mental Ability

    10.1 The Domain of Mental Ability

    10.2 The Structure of Mental Ability: One Dimension or Many?

    10.3 Developmental Change and Stability in Mental Abilities

    10.4 Biological Bases of Mental Ability

    10.5 Genetic and Environmental Influences on Mental Ability

    10.6 Evolutionary Function of Mental Ability

    10.7 Mental Ability and Life Outcomes

    10.8 Not All g-Loaded Tasks are the Same

    10.9 Alternative Ideas About Mental Abilities

    10.10 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 11. Vocational Interests

    11.1 How Vocational Interests are Measured

    11.2 Score Reports from Vocational Interest Surveys

    11.3 Constructing Vocational Interest Scales: Empirical and Rational Strategies

    11.4 Major Dimensions of Vocational Interests

    11.5 Vocational Interests and Personality

    11.6 Vocational Interests and Mental Abilities

    11.7 Validity of Vocational Interest Surveys

    11.8 Origins of Vocational Interests: Developmental Change and Stability, Genetic and Environmental Influences, Biological Bases, and Evolution

    11.9 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 12. Religion and Politics

    12.1 Religion

    12.2 Politics

    12.3 Origins of Religious Beliefs and Political Attitudes: Biological Bases, Genetic and Environmental Influences, and Evolutionary Function

    12.4 Summary and Conclusions

    Chapter 13. Sexuality

    13.1 Major Dimensions of Sexuality

    13.2 Sexuality and Personality

    13.3 Origins of Variation in Sexuality: Developmental Stability and Change, Genetic and Environmental Influences, Biological Bases, and Evolution

    13.4 Sexual Arousal

    13.5 Sexual Commitment (or Restricted versus Unrestricted Sociosexuality)

    13.6 Sexual Orientation

    13.7 Summary and Conclusions


    What We Have Learned So Far

    What We Have Yet to Learn

    Final Remarks



Product details

  • No. of pages: 416
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2013
  • Published: March 21, 2013
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123914705

About the Author

Michael Ashton

Michael Ashton
Michael C. Ashton is a professor of psychology at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 1998. As a grad student in the late 1990s, together with Kibeom Lee, he did some cross-cultural research to find out whether the “Big Five” personality dimensions found in North America could be recovered in other cultures. Using their own work and that of other researchers, they found that there were actually six personality dimensions. The “new” one was the H factor, or the Honesty-Humility Factor, was discovered and is now considered one of the six dimensions of human personality. In addition to the second edition of the textbook, Individual Differences and Personality, he is the author of numerous articles in scientific journals, and co-authored with Kibeom Lee The H Factor of Personality.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Psychology, Brock University, Ontario, Canada

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