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This course introduces you to a broad range of theories and research methods in personality psychology. This link between theories and research methods will be a major theme throughout this course because the theories that personality psychologists hold greatly influence the types of research strategies they use.
We begin with an introduction to the field of personality psychology; turn to the research methods used to investigate theories of personality; and finally, cover a variety of theories that present diverse perspectives on personality.
Psych 203 is a general education course for students who do not plan to major in Psychology. It does not fulfill specific departmental graduation requirements for students completing a Bachelors degree in Psychology. Psychology majors who wish to use Personality Psychology as one of the three required core courses for the major must take Psychology 303. Students may not receive academic credit for Psych 203 if they have completed Psych 303 previously. Contact the undergraduate advisors in the Department of Psychology if you have questions about requirements for the Psychology major at (206) 543-2698.
Note: To finish on time, you should plan to complete one lesson per week, giving yourself a little extra time to prepare for exams.
At the end of this course, you will be able to
About the Online Environment
Your online course offers several advantages to the traditional classroom, including the comprehensive Online Student Handbook, the ability to communicate electronically with students and with your instructor, and links to a rich array of UW Library Services.
Charles S. Carver and Michael F. Scheier, Perspectives on Personality, 7th ed. (Boston: Pearson, 2012).
Online Student Handbook
This handbook answers questions about your online learning course, such as how to purchase your text, obtain a transcript, and get technical help if you need it. The handbook also provides additional resources, such as how to order books or journals from the library and how to study for an online course.
Communication with Your Instructor and Student Peers
UW Library Services
As an online student, you have access to a wealth of Web resources compiled to provide fast, easy access to information that supports your online learning experience. Organized by subjects, UW Library Services links you to sites with help for writing and research, study skills, language learning, and library reference materials. All links have been assessed for credibility and reliability, and they are regularly monitored to ensure their usability.
The online environment poses special challenges to academic integrity. Sharing answers is a violation of the University code of academic conduct, and anyone suspected of violating this code will be referred to the office of academic affairs. Read the UW statement on Academic Honesty: http://www.washington.edu/uaa/gateway/advising/help/academichonesty.php
Several steps have been taken to minimize the likelihood that students will share online material or consult course materials while taking a test. First, the eight quizzes will be available for only a short period of time second, you will have only 6 minutes to complete each quiz (i.e., 1 minute/question), and once you submit your answers, you cannot change them. Finally, you will receive feedback regarding the number of questions you answered correctly, but you will not learn which answers are correct.
The midterm and final exams will only be administered online. As with the quizzes, you will learn how many questions you answered correctly, but will not receive your test back.
What is personality? How do we know personality when we see it? How do we distinguish one personality from another? These are reasonable questions, but it may help to start with a slightly different one: What is personality not? To begin with, personality is not something you can point your finger at. You can't see it, touch it, or smell it. Few of us doubt, however, that personality exists. In fact, there is general agreement that all people have a personality. We perceive others to have personality based on their behavior in the situations in which we observe them. When we see a child sharing her candy with her brother, we often conclude that she is a nice person. Based on this assumption, we may expect that she will be likely to act nicely towards others in the future.
We also use information about the situation to make this type of judgment. For instance, we might not assume that the little girl is a nice person if we hear her mother tell her she can't go to a movie unless she shares her candy. This example highlights that two distinct factors influence behavior: our personality and the situations in which we find ourselves. Personality psychologists focus on the role personality processes play in guiding our actions, but they use knowledge of the situation to infer when personality processes are operating.
Researchers and theorists have argued for centuries about the nature of personality. One ancient Greek theorist, Galen, hypothesized that personality is the result of four bodily humors (or fluids), and that an overabundance of one type of humor leads to a particular personality. Following in this tradition, more modern researchers have identified other biological processes that influence personality. Other researchers believe the origins of personality reside in deep rooted psychological conflicts or prior learning experiences. The diversity of these theoretical perspectives is one of the things that makes personality psychology such a rich and interesting area of study.
This course has several goals. First and foremost, it is designed to introduce you to the broad range of topics examined by personality psychology. At the end of this course, you'll be familiar with the topics personality psychologists study, the methods they use to investigate these issues, and the theories they have developed to explain their findings. You'll also have a better understanding of what makes each of us different from one another, where these differences come from, and how these differences are likely to change over time. Finally, the skills you'll learn in this course will help you evaluate research outside of personality psychology. For example, you might read about a study in the field of medicine. You will be in a better position to assess the merits of this research once you have learned to evaluate research more generally.
One final point I'd like to make is that you will undoubtedly find this material to be challenging, exciting, and thought-provoking; I know I do. I think of personality psychology as a wonderful area of science in which I can begin to ask in a scientific way questions about others and myself that I have been asking in a very informal way since childhood. I hope you come to feel the same way.
About the Lessons
This course consists of eight lessons and two examinations.
There will be two examinations. A
Look for key terms in the assigned readings and in the lesson commentary. The end of each textbook chapter includes a glossary that defines terms listed in the Key Textbook Terms sidebar at the beginning of each lesson.
At the end of many lessons, you will find suggested online activities—links to Web sites with additional information, such as articles, videos, slide shows, and animations. These non-graded activities are provided to complement the lesson topic in your online learning course.
Lesson 1: Introduction to Theory and Research in Personality Psychology
Lesson 2: Structural and Motivational Properties of Dispositions
Lesson 3: Personality as a Biological Process
Lesson 4: Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory
Lesson 5: Ego Psychology and Psychosocial Theories
Lesson 6: Personality as Patterns of Learned Behavior
Lesson 7: The Self, Subjective Experience, and the Capacity for Growth
Lesson 8: The Cognitive Perspective in Personality Psychology
About the Assignments
You must complete all assigned quizzes and exams before you can receive a final grade for the course.
Each lesson includes an assignment in the form of an online quiz linked from your My Course Syllabus. These quizzes are designed to help you understand and apply the issues discussed in the lectures.As discussed earlier, due to the possibility of academic misconduct the quizzes will be available to take for only a limited time. You will have 6 minutes to complete each quiz (i.e., 1 minute/question).
There will be two examinations—a midterm and a final. You will have 60 minutes to complete the midterm, and 2 hours to complete the final. Exams will cover information in the readings, commentary, and lectures. They are designed to assess your knowledge and application of the concepts.
Evaluation and Grading
Because this is an online course, the amount of personal interaction between you, the student, and me, the instructor, is limited. I will keep close track of the assignments you turn in, and, if I observe an unusually long delay between assignments, I will drop you a note to see how you are doing. Your success in this course will depend primarily on self-discipline and your ability to schedule your time wisely.
When approaching a new lesson, briefly review the study guide materials to get a feeling for the topic you will be studying. Also, while reading the text you might consider other sources of information about personality and its role in human behavior. Newspapers, movies, and novels can be good sources of ideas for thinking about the concepts we'll be discussing. You should use the "material" you encounter from these sources to test your understanding of key concepts.
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