Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Observation: detecting characteristics and behavior of objects by whatsoever contact with the object unlike conclusions from past processes or assumeded or imperceptible parts or hidden parameters. See also hidden variable, observation language, theories.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 275
Observation/comparative psychology/personality/Gosling: To address concerns about the existence of personality in animals, Gosling, Lilienfeld and Marino (2003(1); see also Gosling and Vazire 2002(2)) recently adopted three criteria from the debate concerning the existence of personality in humans (Kenrick and Funder 1988)(3):
(1) assessments by independent observers must agree with one another;
(2) those assessments must predict behaviours and real-world outcomes; and
(3) observer ratings must be shown to reflect genuine attributes of the individuals rated, not just the observers’ implicit theories about how personality traits co-vary.
Corr I 276
Ad (1)
Studies of humans rating other humans typically elicit inter-observer agreement correlations in the region of .50 (e.g., Funder, Kolar and Blackman 1995)(4), supporting the idea that humans agree with their ratings of one another and providing a standard by which judgements of animals can be evaluated. There is now a substantial corpus of research showing that observers agree strongly in their ratings of animals. Gosling (2001(5)) summarized the findings from twenty-one rating studies of animal personality; the mean inter-observer agreement correlation was .52, matching the magnitude of consensus correlations from human research.
Ad (2)
E.g. Personality traits have been shown to predict specific behaviours (e.g., Pederson, King and Landau 2005)(6), occupational success (e.g., Maejima Inoue-Murayama, Tonosaki et al. 2006)(7), and health outcomes.
Corr I 277
Ad (3)
The factors obtained from behavioural codings resemble factors obtained from observer ratings, suggesting that both methods assess the same underlying constructs (Gosling and John 1999)(8). Overall, the findings suggest that the structure of personality ratings is based, at least in part, on real attributes of the individuals being rated.
Animal personality/observation/differences: The concept of animal personality is tightly tied to the existence of individual differences; that is, a personality trait can be identified only if individuals vary on that trait.

1. Gosling, S. D., Lilienfeld, S. O. and Marino, L. 2003. Personality, in D. Maestripieri (ed.), Primate psychology: the mind and behaviour of human and nonhuman primates, pp. 254–88. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
2. Gosling, S. D. and Vazire, S. 2002. Are we barking up the right tree? Evaluating a comparative approach to personality, Journal of Research in Personality 36: 607–14
3. Kenrick, D. T. and Funder, D. C. 1988. Profiting from controversy: lessons from the person-situation debate, American Psychologist 43: 23–34
4. Funder, D. C. Kolar, D. C. and Blackman, M. C. 1995. Agreement among judges of personality: interpersonal relations, similarity, and acquaintance, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69: 656–72
5. Gosling, S. D. 2001. From mice to men: what can we learn about personality from animal research?, Psychological Bulletin 127: 45–86
6 .Pederson, A. K., King, J. E. and Landau, V. I. 2005. Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) personality predicts behaviour, Journal of Research in Personality 39: 534–49
7. Maejima, M., Inoue-Murayama, M., Tonosaki, K., Matsuura, N., Kato, S., Saito, Y., Weiss, A., Murayama, Y. and Ito, S. 2006. Traits and genotypes may predict the successful training of drug detection dogs, Applied Animal Behaviour Science 0168–1591
8. Gosling, S. D. and John, O. P. 1999. Personality dimensions in non-human animals: a cross-species review, Current Directions in Psychological Science 8: 69–75

Samuel D. Gosling and B. Austin Harley, “Animal models of personality and cross-species comparisons”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Comparative Psychology
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018

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