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  1. #1

    Default I distrust the lexical hypothesis

    I remember reading in a psychology text book in High School about "trait" based approaches to personality theories and laughing out loud (sarcastically).

    Now I know why I distrust MBTI (and FFM even more).

    It has to do with this hypothesis:

    The lexical hypothesis posits that most of the socially relevant and salient personality characteristics have become encoded in the natural language (e.g., Allport, 1937). Thus, the personality vocabulary contained in the dictionaries of a natural language provides an extensive, yet finite, set of attributes that the people speaking that language have found important and useful in their daily interactions (Goldberg, 1981).

    quoted from this paper.

    Does anyone know how much direct testing of that hypothesis has been done? I find the fact that we even consider it, let alone, use it as a basis for our main approaches at deciphering personality an affront to common sense.

    I know they've done some cross-cultural studies for Big-Five to try and nuetralize for culture, but to validate a good scientific (as apposed to an industrial or business) hypothesis, one needs to neutralize for almost everything else. How are you ever going to do that? The most salient parts of personality being encoded in natural language? AYKM?

    If anything, they should record physiological responses to various forms of stimuli when trying to accomplish various tasks and do factor analysis on the results of that. That may tell us for sure, if there are indeed "types" of people. After we determine the types from physiological responses, perhaps we can start testing how particular types use words.

    Almost none of my thoughts or feelings are naturally encoded in words. The words I choose are usually just idioms I stole from other people. Generally, I make language my bitch (another idiom I stole). I use it to attempt to convey whatever message I am trying to convey (success varies).

    I am also not at all surprised that there are 5 factors. Analyze the human lexicon for the description of any pervasive concept and see if you don't come up with 5 factors.

    I think the Big-Five gives is more a study of the human lexicon for describing personality that a study of human personality.

    Any thoughts?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Are you suggesting that we find a way to describe human personality that isn't based on how we perceive ourselves and others? Language does describe our personalities in terms people tend to understand... but I know it doesn't capture the essence of the thing.

    I think the only way to really know about types the way you're describing is to do intensive neurological studies, genetic studies, and behavioral studies on the same group of people, preferably as large a group as possible. Then we determine what neurological structures are related to what in our DNA code, and how our neurology combines with environmental influence to affect our behavior. Then we'll have a better way of explaining personality.

    But I think that's far off in the future, and the current system does a semi-reasonable job of telling us how we see ourselves, how others see us, and conflicts that may occur as a result of differing values and goals, as well as different worldviews. It's not perfect, but it's better than having no point of reference at all.

  3. #3
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Any thoughts?
    I know I'm going to be accused of confirmation bias, but in my experience the 16 personality types exist across geographical and lingual borders.
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by athenian200 View Post
    Are you suggesting that we find a way to describe human personality that isn't based on how we perceive ourselves and others? Language does describe our personalities in terms people tend to understand... but I know it doesn't capture the essence of the thing.
    I think language is an incredibly feeble way to desribe personality (or anything complex for that matter).

    Quote Originally Posted by athenian200 View Post
    I think the only way to really know about types the way you're describing is to do intensive neurological studies, genetic studies, and behavioral studies on the same group of people, preferably as large a group as possible. Then we determine what neurological structures are related to what in our DNA code, and how our neurology combines with environmental influence to affect our behavior. Then we'll have a better way of explaining personality.

    But I think that's far off in the future, and the current system does a semi-reasonable job of telling us how we see ourselves, how others see us, and conflicts that may occur as a result of differing values and goals, as well as different worldviews. It's not perfect, but it's better than having no point of reference at all.
    I think physiological experiments are what I was sugesting not neurological, or genetic. Thought these things are not as far into the future as you may think. Functional MRI's are used quite often in reasearch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    I know I'm going to be accused of confirmation bias, but in my experience the 16 personality types exist across geographical and lingual borders.
    FWIW, I think there is something to Jung's observations. Something deeper than we've been able to test.

    My main issue is that trait based theories let the "tail wag the dog." That is it allows our natural language (stereotype based) descriptions of people create our understanding of real personality.

    I thing the more natural-language based your personality theory is the more prone to pigeonholng the theory becomes.

    I mean, did we need factor analysis to coax, out that those who we naturally call more "contientious" are the same people we consider better at their jobs, or that the same people we consider "open to expiriences or "open minded" are the same people we consider more "intelligent" (whether or not it is true)

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  5. #5
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by athenian200 View Post
    Are you suggesting that we find a way to describe human personality that isn't based on how we perceive ourselves and others? Language does describe our personalities in terms people tend to understand... but I know it doesn't capture the essence of the thing.

    I think the only way to really know about types the way you're describing is to do intensive neurological studies, genetic studies, and behavioral studies on the same group of people, preferably as large a group as possible. Then we determine what neurological structures are related to what in our DNA code, and how our neurology combines with environmental influence to affect our behavior. Then we'll have a better way of explaining personality.

    But I think that's far off in the future, and the current system does a semi-reasonable job of telling us how we see ourselves, how others see us, and conflicts that may occur as a result of differing values and goals, as well as different worldviews. It's not perfect, but it's better than having no point of reference at all.
    Yes.

    Better late than never.

  6. #6
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    I know I'm going to be accused of confirmation bias, but in my experience the 16 personality types exist across geographical and lingual borders.
    What exists in the second hand may not exist in the first hand.

  7. #7
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Not sure how this is going to help... but the lexical approach is based upon the premise that if people think something is important... then, since we're social creatures, we are highly likely to want to describe it using words. Whether the descriptions adequately describes feelings doesn't matter... All that matters is we assigned a label for that thing. And we can track the number of labels.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightning View Post
    Not sure how this is going to help... but the lexical approach is based upon the premise that if people think something is important... then, since we're social creatures, we are highly likely to want to describe it using words. Whether the descriptions adequately describes feelings doesn't matter... All that matters is we assigned a label for that thing. And we can track the number of labels.
    What if we'd rather describe it using pictures or physical models for things they consider important? I personally would really prefer to express important things in set-notation, formal logic, and math if it were an option. We'd have hare fewer vacuous arguments or debates that way.

    The labels themselves (words) are incredibly ambiguous, often used inconsistently, and highly limited.

    Also, the words used to describe personality are highly sterotype driven (hence the strong tendency to steroptype). The labels are disabling.

    Traits are artificial things that try to sum up the states and state-transitions of person. They are not (as many assume) internally driven, but externally imposed. They are in the eye of the beholder. As such the more rare personalities may get unfairly put on pedestal or unfairly derided.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  9. #9
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    What if we'd rather describe it using pictures or physical models for things they consider important? I personally would really prefer to express important things in set-notation, formal logic, and math if it were an option. We'd have hare fewer vacuous arguments or debates that way.

    The labels themselves (words) are incredibly ambiguous, often used inconsistently, and highly limited.

    Also, the words used to describe personality are highly sterotype driven (hence the strong tendency to steroptype). The labels are disabling.

    Traits are artificial things that try to sum up the states and state-transitions of person. They are not (as many assume) internally driven, but externally imposed. They are in the eye of the beholder. As such the more rare personalities may get unfairly put on pedestal or unfairly derided.
    It's true that labels are ambiguous and can lead to stereotyping... however I'm sure you can agree that personality involves many traits/variables that cannot be formally defined. In fact I don't even think you can isolate parts of personality into components... and without that you cannot formulate individual stand-alone premises. So people have to make do with basing it on labels. Yes, it can lead to self-confirming biases... but at least it's a system we can use to orientate research/thoughts. Just because a system is flawed doesn't mean it is useless. The Ti in you might be repulsed by that suggestion, but it's true. People are always more than their personality. Experience and the situation will affect behavior. If people get stuck in their heads that a person does XXX, or thinks XXX because they have XX trait or are XX type clearly needs to be reeducated for misapplying theories.

    Hmmm also even without having personality traits... people will tend to apply stereotypes anyways. It's human nature to be lazy. You can't blame the labels for that.

  10. #10
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    What if we'd rather describe it using pictures or physical models for things they consider important? I personally would really prefer to express important things in set-notation, formal logic, and math if it were an option. We'd have hare fewer vacuous arguments or debates that way.

    The labels themselves (words) are incredibly ambiguous, often used inconsistently, and highly limited.

    Also, the words used to describe personality are highly stereotype driven (hence the strong tendency to stereotype). The labels are disabling.

    Traits are artificial things that try to sum up the states and state-transitions of person. They are not (as many assume) internally driven, but externally imposed. They are in the eye of the beholder. As such the more rare personalities may get unfairly put on pedestal or unfairly derided.
    Most of what we call personality is subjectively determined at present. We don't base our understanding of how people think and behave on their inner thought processes, but on our subjective evaluation of their outward presentation.

    We don't understand the mechanics of human thought and behavior well enough to describe them in a purely objective fashion. We only vaguely and tentatively grasp them as an idea or pattern. I would certainly like a better system, I just don't think we have the ability to create anything better.

    What do you propose in terms of creating an objectively defined personality system?

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