Psychology 2550A 650 SU23

Introduction to Personality Theory & Research

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



LONDON               CANADA 

Department of Psychology 

Summer 2023 


Psychology 2550 Section 650 






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. Extra Information: 4 lecture hours. 


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. 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: A mark of at least 60% in 1.0 credits of Psychology at the 1000 level. 


Unless you have either the prerequisites 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. 


Lecture hours: 4  

Course Weight: 0.5 




Instructor: Kristi Baerg MacDonald  

Office: SSC 6326 

Office Hours: By appointment via Zoom 

Email: (include course #PSY2550 in email subject line) 


Time and Location of Classes: Asynchronous   

Delivery Method: Virtual 


Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Health and Wellness @Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. 


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 contact Accessible Education at  or 519-661-2147. 


2.1 Online Learning Notice: 
Please note: For courses delivered in an online format, include an online component, or are required to pivot online, students must have a reliable internet connection and computer that are compatible with online learning system requirements. Some courses may also require the use of a remote proctoring platform to ensure assessments are taken fairly in accordance with Western’s policy on Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students and Scholastic Discipline for Graduate Students. Please refer to the course syllabus for further information. 




Larsen, R.J., Buss, D.M., King, D.B., & Ensley, C.E. (2020). Personality psychology: Domains of knowledge about human nature (2nd Canadian edition). McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., Canada. 


ISBN-13: 978-1-26-006577-0 

ISBN-10: 1-26-006577-4 


Note: students may use either the paper version of the book or the e-book, but cannot use the first edition. 


Available at the University Bookstore: 




Learning Outcome  

Learning Activity  


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge.  

  • Learning Outcome 1: Know the differences and similarities of personality approaches 
  • Learning Outcome 2: Understand the main research findings within each area of personality theory. 

Lectures and course readings. 

Multiple choice exams. 

Knowledge of Methodologies.  

  • Learning Outcome 1: Understand the methods that are used to research personality theories. 
  • Learning Outcome 2: Correctly determine methodological issues in personality psychology 

Lectures and course readings. 

Multiple choice exams. 

Application of Knowledge.  

  • Learning Outcome 1: Correctly determine outcomes in hypothetical situations according to specific theories 
  • Learning Outcome 2: Identify core principals of major personality theories 

Lectures and course readings. 

Multiple choice exams. 

Communication Skills.  

  • Learning Outcome 1:  Discuss various theories of personality and their application. 
  • Learning Outcome 2: Engage in respectful discussions about personality theories 


Forum posts and replies 


Awareness of Limits of Knowledge. 

  • Learning Outcome 1: Correctly determine what variables or factors may confound results. 
  • Learning Outcome 2: Understand limitations of theories and identify grey areas in personality 


Lectures and course readings. 

Multiple choice exams. 

Autonomy and Professional Capacity. 

  • Learning Outcome 1: Understand the cultural context with respect to personality psychology. 
  • Learning Outcome 2: Identify where personality theory can be beneficial and where it is misused.  

Lectures and course readings. 

Multiple choice exams. 






The evaluation and testing formats for this course were created to assess the learning objectives as listed in section 4.0 and are considered necessary for meeting these learning objectives. 

Assignments – 10% 


One of the difficulties with a distance studies class is feeling connected to the course, material, and other students. The purpose of these assignments is to engage in the course material and with each other on a regular basis. 

For the ten non-exam weeks, I will post one or more questions for applying the material that week in the Forum section of OWL. Each assignment is worth 2% of your grade, and you need to complete 5 of them.  


The assignment has two parts: 

  1. A post answering the question(s) (1 mark) AND 
  1. A response to another students’ post (1 mark) 


The two parts to the assignment must be completed in the same week (i.e. your post and response to another student should be on the same topic).  


Guidelines for assignment marks 

  1. Posts must be at least 75 words and relevant to the discussion questions. 
  1. Replies must be at least 40 words and expand on the post in some way (that is, not just rephrasing the post). 


Note: Please be respectful on the forum. No swearing or offensive language please. Disagreements are fine, but again, be civil, no name calling, insults, or inflamed writing.   


Exams – 90% 


The course is divided into three sections and there is an exam after each section. Exam questions are multiple choice and short answer in format. Each exam will be scheduled for 120 minutes (2 hours) and consist of 60 questions 

Exam content is non-cumulative. Exams will cover content from lectures, as well as assigned chapter/sections in the text. Each exam is worth 30% and are at the following times using ProctorTrack (these are closed-book exams, no reference or lecture material is permitted): 


Exam 1: May 29 at 1:00-3:00PM 

Exam 2: June 26 at 1:00-3:00PM 

Exam 3: TBD in summer exam period (July 31 – August 3) 


Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams may be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating. 





Students who are unable to write an exam must submit documentation ASAP to their Academic 

Counsellor to be granted approval for academic consideration. See section 11.0 for university policy on 

academic accommodation. Students who miss an exam should also contact the instructor via email 

( immediately to report their absence and register for the make-up exam. 


For course components worth 2% of the total course grade (i.e., assignments), academic 

accommodation will not be considered. Note however that the evaluation of assignments is structured 

such that students can choose which weeks to complete tasks. 


The expectation for course grades within the Psychology Department is that they will be distributed around the following averages: 


70% 1000-level to 2099-level courses 

72% 2100-2999-level courses 

75% 3000-level courses 

80% 4000-level courses 


The Psychology Department follows Western’s 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 


Note that in the event that course grades are significantly higher or lower than these averages, instructors may be required to make adjustments to course grades. Such adjustment might include the normalization of one or more course components and/or the re-weighting of various course components. 


Policy on Grade Rounding: Please note that although course grades within the Psychology Department are rounded to the nearest whole number, no further grade rounding will be done. No additional assignments will be offered to enhance a final grade; nor will requests to change a grade because it is needed for a future program be considered. To maximize your grade, do your best on each and every assessment within the course. 




May 29 – Exam 1 online (60 multiple choice questions, covers chapters 1-5, worth 30%) 

June 26 – Exam 2 online (60 multiple choice questions, covers chapters 6-11, worth 30%) 

Exam 3 – Final exam period (July 31 – August 3) (60 multiple choice questions, covers chapters 12-20, worth 30%) 

Assignments – Weekly, choose 5 (worth 10%) 


Students are responsible for material covered in the lectures as well as the assigned chapters/sections in the text.  Exams 1 and 2 will be on a Monday, starting at 7:00AM Eastern time, and ending on Tuesday at 6:59AM. The third exam will be scheduled during the exam period. 




Lectures and course material will be uploaded by this date each week (at the latest):  

May 8, 2023 – Introduction to the course; Ch. 1 Intro to Personality Psychology 
May 15, 2023 – Ch 3 Traits and taxonomies; Ch 2 Measurement 

May 23, 2023 – Ch 4 Theoretical and Measurement issues; Ch 5 Personality over time (note that May 22 is Victoria Day, so this week’s material will be available by the Tuesday, May 23) 
May 29, 2023 – Exam 1 at 1:00- 3:00PM (Chapters 1 to 5) 
June 5, 2023 – Ch 6 Genetics; Ch 7 Physiological; Ch 8 Evolutionary 
June 12, 2023 – Ch 9 & 10 Psychoanalytic approaches 
June 19, 2023 – Ch 11 Motives 
June 26, 2023 – Exam 2 at 1:00-3:00PM (Chapters 6 to 11) 
July 3, 2023 – Ch 12 Cognitive topics; Ch 14 Approaches to the self 
July 10, 2023 – Ch 13 Emotion; Ch 15 Social interaction 
July 17, 2023 – Ch 16 Sex, Gender; Ch 17 Culture 
July 24, 2023 – Ch 18 Stress and health; Ch 19 Disorders; Ch 20 Future directions 

Exam 3 TBA Summer exam period (July 31 – August 3; Chapters 12 to 20) 




We acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. 


With this, we respect the longstanding relationships that Indigenous Nations have to this land, as they are the original caretakers. We acknowledge historical and ongoing injustices that Indigenous Peoples (e.g. First Nations, Métis and Inuit) endure in Canada, and we accept responsibility as a public institution to contribute toward revealing and correcting miseducation, as well as renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through our teaching, research and community service. 





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


As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offences. 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 ( 


Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams will be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating. 


In classes that involve the use of a personal response system (PRS), data collected using the PRS will only be used in a manner consistent to that described in this outline. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make every effort to ensure that data remain confidential. However, students should be aware that as with all forms of electronic communication, privacy is not guaranteed. Your PRS login credentials are for your sole use only. Students attempting to use another student’s credentials to submit data through the PRS may be subject to academic misconduct proceedings.  


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



Tests and examinations for online courses will be conducted using a remote proctoring service. By taking this course, you are consenting to the use of this software and acknowledge that you will be required to provide personal information (including some biometric data) and the session will be recorded.  Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that meets the technical requirements for this service. More information about this remote proctoring service, including technical requirements, is available on Western’s Remote Proctoring website at: 

In the event that in-person exams are unexpectedly canceled, you may only be given notice of the use of a proctoring service a short time in advance. 



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


If you experience an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness, injury) sufficiently significant to temporarily make you unable to meet academic requirements, you may request accommodation through the following routes:  

  1. For medical absences, submitting a Student Medical Certificate (SMC) signed by a licensed medical or mental health practitioner in order to be eligible for Academic Consideration;  
  1. For non-medical absences, submitting appropriate documentation (e.g., obituary, police report, accident report, court order, etc.) to Academic Counselling in their Faculty of registration in order to be eligible for academic consideration. Students are encouraged to contact their Academic Counselling unit to clarify what documentation is appropriate. 


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


Students seeking academic consideration: 

  • are advised to consider carefully the implications of postponing tests or midterm exams or delaying handing in work;   
  • must communicate with their instructors no later than 24 hours after the end of the period covered SMC, or immediately upon their return following a documented absence 


Students seeking accommodation for religious purposes are advised to contact Academic Counselling at least three weeks prior to the religious event and as soon as possible after the start of the term. 




In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence or any other event that necessitates the course delivery moving away from face-to-face interaction, all remaining course content will be delivered entirely online, either synchronously (i.e., at the times indicated in the timetable) or asynchronously (e.g., posted on OWL for students to view at their convenience). The grading scheme will not change. Any remaining assessments will also be conducted online, as determined by the course instructor. 




In courses involving online interactions, the Psychology Department expects students to honour the following rules of etiquette: 

  • please “arrive” to class on time 
  • please use your computer and/or laptop if possible (as opposed to a cell phone or tablet) 
  • please ensure that you are in a private location to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the event that a class discussion deals with sensitive or personal material 
  • to minimize background noise, kindly mute your microphone for the entire class until you are invited to speak, unless directed otherwise 
  • In classes larger than 30 participants please turn off your video camera for the entire class unless you are invited to speak 
  • In classes of 30 students or fewer, where video chat procedures are being used, please be prepared to turn your video camera off at the instructor’s request if the internet connection becomes unstable 
  • Unless invited by your instructor, do not share your screen in the meeting 


The course instructor will act as moderator for the class and will deal with any questions from participants. To participate please consider the following: 

  • If you wish to speak, use the “raise hand” function and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before beginning your comment or question. 
  • Please remember to unmute your microphone and turn on your video camera before speaking. 
  • Self-identify when speaking. 
  • Please remember to mute your mic and turn off your video camera after speaking (unless directed otherwise). 


General considerations of “netiquette”: 

  • Keep in mind the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the course. 
  • Be courteous toward the instructor, your colleagues, and authors whose work you are discussing. 
  • Be respectful of the diversity of viewpoints that you will encounter in the class and in your readings. The exchange of diverse ideas and opinions is part of the scholarly environment. “Flaming” is never appropriate. 
  • Be professional and scholarly in all online postings. Use proper grammar and spelling. Cite the ideas of others appropriately. 


Note that disruptive behaviour of any type during online classes, including inappropriate use of the chat function, is unacceptable. Students found guilty of Zoom-bombing a class or of other serious online offenses may be subject to disciplinary measures under the Code of Student Conduct. 




Office of the Registrar:   


Student Development Services:  


Psychology Undergraduate Program: 


If you wish to appeal a grade, please read the policy documentation at: 

Please first contact the course instructor. If your issue is not resolved, you may make your appeal to the Undergraduate Chair in Psychology ( 


Copyright Statement: Lectures and course materials, including power point presentations, outlines, videos and similar materials, are protected by copyright. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own educational use. You may not record lectures, reproduce (or allow others to reproduce), post or distribute any course materials publicly and/or for commercial purposes without the instructor’s written consent. 


Policy on the Recording of Synchronous Sessions: Some or all of the remote learning sessions for this course (if scheduled) may be recorded. The data captured during these recordings may include your image, voice recordings, chat logs and personal identifiers (name displayed on the screen). The recordings will be used for educational purposes related to this course, including evaluations. The recordings may be disclosed to other individuals participating in the course for their private or group study purposes. Please contact the instructor if you have any concerns related to session recordings. Participants in this course are not permitted to privately record the sessions, except where recording is an approved accommodation, or the student has the prior written permission of the instructor.