Psychology 2550B-001

Introduction to Personality Theory and Research

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


A survey of the history, methodology and content of the study of individual differences. Topics to be covered include: evaluation of typical personality assessment methods and a consideration of modern empirical research in personality theory and assessment.

Antirequisite: Psychology 2050 if taken before 2016

Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.

Prerequisite: At least 60% in a 1000 level Psychology course

4 lecture hours, 0.5 course

Unless you have either the requisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


Instructor:                       Dr. D. Vollick                         

Office:                     SSC 7440                     

Office Hours:           By Appointment


Teaching Assistant: 


Office Hours:          


Time and Location of Classes:   Mondays & Wednesdays; 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm: SSC 2024


If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Required:   Meschel, W., Shoda, Y, & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to personality (8th ed.). Toronto: Wiley

                   This is an e-book. Purchase the access code at the bookstore.

                   A few hardcopies are available in the bookstore.



After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

Discriminate between, and identify the various theories of Personality Psychology. Measured through Multiple-Choice Exams.

Differentiate between, and identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of, the various psychological and biological theories of personality development. Measured through Multiple-Choice Exams.

Distinguish between, and identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of, the various research designs used to develop those theories. Measured through Multiple-Choice Exams.

Identify various components of personality assessment (e.g., interviewing, administrating various tests, brain imaging). Measured through Multiple-Choice Exams.

Recognize cross-cultural and intracultural differences in the development and expression of personality characteristics. Measured through Multiple-Choice Exams.

Contrast the sex and gender differences in the development and expression of personality characteristics. Measured through Multiple-Choice Exams.



Student evaluation will be based on two in-class exams and a final exam, all based on the text and other material presented in class.  Each exam will be worth 1/3 of your total mark on the course, and will consist of multiple choice questions. The exams will be non-cumulative.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


First Exam:      February 5, 2017: in SSC 3022 during regular class time. It will consist of 80 Multiple-Choice Questions and cover all material from both lectures and the text pertaining to Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6. (1/3 of total mark)

Second Exam:  March 12, 2017: in SSC 3022 during regular class time. It will consist of 80 Multiple-Choice Questions and cover all material from both lectures and the text pertaining to Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12. (1/3 of total mark)

Final Exam       During Final Exam Period. It will consist of 80 Multiple-Choice Questions and cover all material, from both lectures and the text, pertaining to Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, & 18. (1/3 of total mark)                                   

Note: These exams are not cumulative.


  • The lecture schedule may change, however the exam dates are final.
  • You will glean more from the class if you read the lecture material prior to class.
  • Lectures will contain material not in the text, and I will not be covering all material in the text.
  • You will be tested on all material in the text and that presented in lectures


Jan. 8               Chapter 1 - introduction and overview of various personality theories      

Jan.10               Chapter 2 – various research methods in personality

Jan.15               Chapter 3 – traits and types as the basis of personality

Jan.17              Chapter 3

Jan.22               Chapter 4 – dispositions as the basis of personality

Jan.24               Chapter 5 – heredity and personality development

Jan.29               Chapter 6 – the brain and evolution and personality development

Jan.31               Chapter 6


Feb. 5               Exam 1 (during class)


Feb. 7               Chapter 7 – psychodynamic (Freudian) theories of personality development

Feb. 12             Chapter 7

Feb. 14             Chapter 8 – applying psychodynamic theory & processes (diagnosis & therapy

Feb. 19-23        Reading Week

Feb. 26             Chapter 9 – post-Freudian theories and applications                              

Feb. 28             Chapter 10 – behavioral (learning) theories of personality development

Mar. 5               Chapter 11 – analyzing and modifying behaviors applying behavioral theory

Mar. 7               Chapter 12 – humanistic/existential theories of personality development


Mar. 12             Exam 2 (during class)


Mar. 14             Chapter 13 – internal view - self-concepts, self-assessments, & self-               awareness

Mar. 19             Chapter 14 – social cognitive theories of personality development

Mar. 21             Chapter 14

Mar. 26             Chapter 15 – processes of social cognition (e.g., self-schemas)

Mar. 28             Chapter 16 – integration of the above theories (the person as a whole)

Apr. 2               Chapter 17 – self-regulation – from goal pursuit to goal achievement

Apr. 4               Chapter 18 – societal, gender, and cultural differences


                 Final Exam       Final Exam Period (TBA)


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.