The basic theme of this course is that the proper study of human behavior
should include an examination of individual differences in behavior. This course
will include an examination of the sources (both biological and environmental),
the correlates, and the consequences of individual differences in at least four
different dimensions of personality, intellect, and temperament. Roughly
one-third of the course will be devoted to reviewing current theories of
personality, another third to outlining the steps in the measurement of
personality, and the final third to designing and conducting experiments to
evaluate current theoretical controversies in the field. Much of the reading
will be come from current journal articles and recent review papers. Prerequisites: Statistics (Psychology 201),
Research Methods in Psychology (205) and Personality Theory (215). (The first two are required, the last is highly recommended.)
The first part of the course is meant to provide a rapid overview of current theories of
personality, particularly as they apply to real world performance. Tests of
these theories are possible research projects. During the second third of the
course, while preparing to conduct the research projects, class lectures and
assignments will discuss the fundamentals of psychometric
theory. The third section of the course will be devoted to other current
topics in the field of personality research.
Requirements and methods of evaluation:
- A research proposal that reviews a relevant body of the personality
literature, proposes a theoretical question, and suggests how to answer it.
The review should be the equivalent of the introduction of a journal article, and
the proposed method to test the theoretical question should demonstrate
sophistication in research design. The paper should conclude with a summary of
how the data will be analyzed and the pattern of expected results. To be written
in APA style .
(Due May 7. Final research projects will be selected from these proposals.
- A midterm exam that will cover the various theories
of personality and performance discussed in class and in the readings.
Sample questions will be distributed before the exam. (April 30th ) (30%)
- A final research project that will include a review of the relevant
literature, an experimental test of an hypothesis, and a discussion of the
experimental results. The data collection and some analysis will be performed
as a group project, although the final paper must be an individual effort. To
be written in APA
style . (Due June 11th). (30%)
- A final exam that will cover the basic concepts of the course. (June
11th). (This final exam is optional and will be weighted equally with the other exams
and projects. That is, if taken, all projects have a 22% weight. If not taken,
all projects have a 30% weight.
- Class and discussion group participation. This is a class on research
methods and theories. It is necessary for all members of the class to
participate in proposing alternative models and evaluating the theories
presented. This may be done in class discussion, as well as extraclass
interaction. Computerized conferencing will be used as well. Email discussion
with the instructor and teaching assistant is strongly encouraged. (10%)
Suggested (but certainly not required) Texts
Pervin, L. A. and John, O. (Ed.). (1998). Handbook of Personality: theory and research.(2nd Ed) New
York, New York: Guilford Press.
Robins, R.W., Fraley, R. C., Krueger, R.F., (2007) Handbook of research methods in personality psychologhy. New York, N.Y. Guilford.
Much of the material will be from chapters in Pervin and John or from Robins et al. as well as reprints of
relevant articles. These will be distributed in class (or listed on the web syllabus). Still more material will be made
available on the web. In addition, students are expected to review one particular
topic in detail and should consult current journals in personality.
- For reports of current research in personality
- For theoretical organization:
- For help in searching the literature
- Additional resources that provide useful background to the field include:
- Brody, Nathan., (1983) Human motivation : commentary on goal-directed action
New York : Academic Press,
- Brody, N. (1988) Personality: in search of individuality. Academic Press, New
- Corr, P. J. (2008) Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory. Cambridge
- Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, M. W. (1985). Personality and individual
differences: a natural science approach. New York: Plenum Press.
- Furr, M., Bacharach, V. R. Psychometrics: an introduction. Sage.
- Gray, Jeffrey A. (1987) The psychology of fear and stress McGraw-Hill
- Haslam, N. Introduction of personality and intelligence. (2007). Sage.
- Thayer, Robert. The biopsychology of mood and arousal. Oxford, Oxford
Useful information for psychology majors may be found from The PSYCH WEB, a project of
Russ Dewey at Georgia Southern University. This includes tip sheets on writing
papers as well as general information about careers in psychology. For more
information about personality theory and research, consult The Personality Project
Note that this syllabus is a dynamic document and that additional links will
be added throughout the course. Check back to this overview and to the detailed syllabus frequently.
To Course Outline
Web Address for this syllabus:
Revised March 30, 2008.