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Example research essay topic: Cattell's Big Five Factors - 981 words

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Cattells Big Five Factors of Personality, Behavioral Genetics, and Evolutionary Personality Theory. Current Research Raymond Cattell (1905-present) designed the Big five Factors of Personality, in which five classifications are revealed. Big Five factors: #1 extraversion vs. introversion, #2 agreeableness vs. antagonism, #3 conscientiousness vs. undirected ness, #4 neuroticism vs. emotional stability, and #5 openness to experience vs.

not open to experience. Hans Eysencks and Sir Francis Galton behavior genetics research and Arnold Buss three concerns for evolutionary personality theory coinsided with each other. The Big five represents a catalog of traits that some personality psychologists suggest capture the essence of individual differences in personality. Raymond Cattell used Allport and Odberts 4500 trait-descriptives in which he extracted 35 traits. After others continued to analyze these factors and found congruence with the ratings, that eventually became the Big five Factors of Personality. In order to fully understand the origin of these factors an outline for factor analysis must be explained. Factor analysis studies where conducted and the results where used in an analysis technique generally done with computers to determine meaningful relationships and patterns in behavioral data. Beginning with a large number of behavioral variables, the computer finds relationships or natural connections where variables are maximally correlated with one another and minimally correlated with other variables, and then it groups the data accordingly.

After this process has been repeated many times a pattern of relationships or certain factors that capture the essence of all the data appears (Pervin & John 1999). The same process used to determine the Big Five Personality factors; copious amounts of different researchers that have done numerous tests and they all agree that the Big five Factors are the only consistently reliable factors that have been found. Big Five factors include: #1 extraversion vs. introversion, #2 agreeableness vs. antagonism, #3 conscientiousness vs. undirected ness, #4 neuroticism vs. emotional stability, and #5 openness to experience vs.

not open to experience, these breakdown into understandable terms. #1 Extraversion implies an energetic approach to the social and material world and includes traits such as sociability, activity, assertiveness, and positive emotionality. #2 Agreeableness contrasts a prosocial and communal orientation toward others with antagonism and includes traits such as selflessness, tender-mindedness, trust, and modesty. #3 Conscientiousness describes socially prescribed impulse control that facilitates task and goal-directed behavior, such as thinking before acting, delaying gratification, following norms and rules, and planning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks. #4 Neuroticism contrasts emotional stability and even-temperedness with negative emotionality, such as feeling anxious, nervous, sad, and tense. #5 Openness to experience (versus closed mindedness) describes the breadth, depth, originality, and complexity of an individuals mental and experiential life, such as an imaginative, independent minded, and divergent thinking person (Potkay & Allen 1986).

Many versions of Cattells Big five factors have been reproduced and the first four are always very similar to the first four of Cattells, the fifth one however has run into problems with interpretation. Overall the Big Five factors have been intensely studied in seven different languages and the fifth factor (openness to experience) has the most problems with replication. The Big Five factors are broad dimensions or categories in a hierarchical sense, in that they encompass a lot with very little detail. This is why some researchers found a need for an integrative framework for measuring these factors. From this the NEO Personality Inventory was created by Costa and McCrae, which has the highest validity of the Big Five measurement devices. All of these traits were once though of as byproducts of environmental influences, that is until Sir Francis Galton.

Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) was the first scientist to study heredity, which was only called genetics two years after Galtons death. This field tries to differentiate between genetic and environmental contributions to the individual variations in human behavior. This has massive potential to uncover influences in both normal and deviant behavior. Not long ago, psychologists believed human behavior characteristics were almost exclusively the result of environmental affects. Now these same characteristics are known to be genetically influenced, in many cases to a considerable extent. Intelligence and memory, novelty seeking and activity level, shyness, and sociability all show varying degrees of genetic influence. Hans Eysenck furthered this research with more intense studies of twins, both identical and paternal.

Contributions from behavioral-genetic studies have obligated developmental psychologist to amend two major doctrine theories. Traditional belief asserts that genetic influences were important in infancy and early childhood, only to be superseded by environmental influences as the child matured. More recent behavioral-genetic findings have shown convincingly that, for many traits, genetic effects increase throughout early childhood and adolescence, rather than diminish (McCartney et al.1990). This brings us to evolutionary theories, in which the focus will be on the work of David Buss. In 1984 Buss identified three basic apprehension for personality psychology: #1 what characteristics are typical of humans? #2 what are the most important characteristics on which humans differ? #3 what is the relationship between human nature and individual characteristics? He also acknowledged three criteria from evolutionary biology for determining a characteristic as a part of human nature. These are: it must be universal. Must be innate, unconditioned, and relatively difficult to modify (p.1139). And lastly it must have an adaptive function (Lindsey and Campbell p. 352,1998).

In conclusion, all of these theories have laid the groundwork for mapping complex human behavior. It is still unclear when and how much of our personalities/traits come from genetics and how much is influenced by outside factors. Many believe you must learn of your past in order to succeed in the future, but understanding how we became what we are today is of equal importance. With the advances in technology, DNA/Genetics who knows what answers the future will hold for us. References Hall, C., Lindzey, G., Campbell, J. (1998). Theories of Personality (4th ed.) (pp.343-356) John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Pervin, L. & John, O. (Eds) (1999).

Handbook of Personality: theory and research. New York: Gilford. Potkay, C. & Allen, B (1986). Personality: Theory, research, and applications. California: Brooks/Cole..

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Research essay sample on Cattell's Big Five Factors

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