10-1 Discussion: Future Research in Personality Psychology

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Discuss where you think personality psychology research is headed.

In your initial post, consider the following questions:

  • Do you see limitations in current personality research?
  • What types of research would address these limitations?
  • What are the key areas of future research in personality psychology?

In your responses to a least two other students, address the following:

  • Do you agree with the peer’s position on the direction needed for additional research? Why or why not?
  • Is there current research that already exists to address the peer’s opinion on the keys areas of future research in personality psychology?

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document.

AFTER RESPONDING TO THE INITAL POST, PLEASE ALSO RESPOND TO THE FOLLOWING TWO STUDENTS REGARDING THE SAME TOPIC!


STUDENT ONE:

The field of personality psychology has already made numerous advancements, including moving past the debate of whether personality is, in fact, real and bringing validity back to the profession (Benet-Martinez et al., 2015; Funder, 2016). However, I think the biggest limitation in the field currently, as with most psychology disciplines, is the over-reliance on self-report data. As Benet-Martinez and colleagues (2015) mentioned numerous times in their article, research has moved from naturalistic observation and trying to understand behaviors to self-report, or acquaintance-reported, surveys. Self-report data has a greater opportunity of introducing the social desirability bias into the study, skewing the results in a way that does not provide an accurate depiction of human behavior. In order to address this, I see personality psychology moving away from surveys and taking advantage of the technological advances that help to reduce human error. Additionally, I see personality psychology joining forces to a greater degree with neurobiology.

I believe continuing to study and understand the person-situation debate is going to be one of the key areas for future research in personality psychology. Understanding not only how the situation impacts someone’s personality, but how someone being in that situation impacts the situation itself is crucial to getting a better understanding of humans overall. Given that we differ so widely between and within cultures, understanding the cultural factors that are at play in shaping our personalities is also a key area to focus on.

References

Benet-Martinez, V., Donnellan, M. B., Fleeson, W., Fraley, R. C., Gosling, S. D., King, L. A. … Funder, D. C. (2015). Six visions for the future of personality psychology. In M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, M. L. Cooper, & R. J. Larsen (Eds.). APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 4: Personality Processes and Individual Differences (pp. 665-689). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Funder, D. C. (2016). The personality puzzle (7th ed.). K. Barton (Ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

STUDENT TWO:

Understanding personality allows psychologists to predict how people will respond in certain situations. Personality is the most important topic in psychology because it is where all the other areas come together: cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, biological psychology and social psychology (Funder, 2016). Personality can and does change for many people. It is complex and influenced by many factors. These can be biological or environmental factors. All of these sub disciplines serve personality psychology.

Leszko, Ellen, and Mroczek (2016) found some interesting patterns concerning the shape of the population as we get older. They indicated that neuroticism tends to go down over the course of adulthood, agreeableness and conscientiousness tends to go up and openness and extraversion do not appear to have simple linear trajectories (Leszko et al., 2016). It’s paramount to remember that some people change and others do not. The direction of these changes also vary across individuals. Some people go up or down more than others. Simply put, there are wide individuals differences in personality change (Leszko et al., 2016). Recent work has found that personality trait changes, specifically increases in neuroticism are associated with worse cognitive performance in older adults (Leszko et al., 2016). There are a number of studies demonstrating that those changes in personality occur during the early stages of dementia. They also indicated that it is possible that personality change is a symptom of cognitive decline and dementia. These studies demonstrated that personality trait changes may play an important role in predicting health outcomes.

One limitation that I can see is when utilizing self-report data. People tend to engage in deception when answering questions by providing fake answers to appear more socially acceptable or not answering it honestly. Also people are not good at accurately describing their own behavior. People tend to overestimate certain tendencies while underestimating other characteristics. This can have a serious impact on the accuracy of a personality test. Incorporating multiple methods to address these limitations would help with these types of research. Collecting and comparing those results will give researchers a “bigger picture” than just using one method.

One of the key areas of future research in personality psychology is Mischel’s person-situation debate. His assumption whether the person or the situation is more influential in determining a person’s behavior. This is a good way to collect information on the way we act and react in certain situations and incorporating it with multiple methodological angles to get the “whole picture”.

This was a great course and I enjoyed it! Thanks to the Professor and all my classmates for making this course so interesting!

References

Funder, D.C. (2016). The personality puzzle (7th edition). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.

Leszko, M., Elleman, L.G., & Mroczek, D.K. (2016). Future directions in the study of personality in adulthood and older age. Gerontology, 2016; 62(2); 210-215.

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