Psych 350 - Personality psychology lab
CRN 39819


R. Chris Fraley, PhD
Office: Department of Psychology, Room 409
E-mail, phone, and other information:
Office hours: W 1:00 - 3:00 or by appointment [Just swing by on any afternoon other than M or T. I have an open-door policy and I'm happy to meet with students.]

Teaching Assistants

Chelsea Song

Robyn Marshall

Class web page


Aug 27, 2013

First day!

There is no textbook for this class. All reading material will be made available via the class website and will be announced in class.

Overview of the Course

The discipline of psychology occupies a peculiar niche in modern universities. Contemporary psychologists are concerned with basic humanistic issues (e.g., the nature of emotions, the mind, relationships, free will, and consciousness) that have traditionally been studied by philosophers, poets, and historians. However, unlike scholars in these other disciplines, modern psychologists employ the methods of the natural sciences (e.g., measurement, experimentation) to understand these phenomena.

The objective of this course is to introduce you to scientific methods, explain why they are valuable, and illustrate how they can be used to understand psychological phenomena. More specifically, we will focus on the methods used to study the psychology of personality. Personality psychology is concerned with understanding the ways in which people differ from one another, the origins and development of those differences, and the implications of those differences for important things in our lives (e.g., life satisfaction, close relationships, career performance, creativity, mental and physical health). The study of personality is arguably one of the most integrative areas in contemporary psychology, bringing together theories and data from multiple disciplines to better understand the way in which the mind works, how we develop, and what makes us different from one another. As such, the methods we will discuss in this course will be unusually broad in scope.

Being a methods class, this specific course will not discuss in much depth the "content" of personality psychology (i.e., the knowledge that has accumulated over the last few decades). Psychology 250 serves that purpose and I encourage you to take that class prior to taking this one.

Structure of the Course

There are two components to this course: Lectures and Labs.

Lectures will be held on Tuesdays (3:30 to 5:20) in Room 32 in the Psychology Building. In the lectures I will cover some basic material that you need to know to be an educated researcher or consumer of research in psychology.

Each student should also be enrolled in a lab section. The lab sections will be held in Rooms 289 and 453D (2nd and 4th floor, respectively) of the Psychology Department on Weds and Fridays. The labs will not necessarily meet on BOTH Weds and Fridays of each week. When a lab will not be held, I will announce this in lectures on Tuesdays and update the class webpage accordingly.

39820 9:00 AM - 10:50 AM WF Room 289 Psychology - Chelsea Song
39821 11:00 AM - 12:50 PM WF Room 289 Psychology - Chelsea Song
39822 11:00 AM - 12:50 PM WF Room 453D Psychology - Robyn Marshall
49078 1:00 PM - 2:50 PM WF Room 453D Psychology - Robyn Marshall

In those sections you will design studies, collect and analyze psychological data, read and discuss papers, and expand your critical thinking skills. These sections will be lead by one of the two TA's for the class and attendance is mandatory. These labs will not necessarily be held twice a week every week, but you should plan your schedule as if each and every lab will be meeting. Please attend lecture to stay up to date on the lab schedule. I will announce the lab schedule for each week during the Tuesday lectures.

You will be using computers in the labs. To access these computers, you will need an Active Directory (AD) account. Students should already have AD passwords. Please go to the CITES website to create your AD password if you do not already have one:

Participation and User IDs

Because this is a class about personality psychology, we will often want to work through examples based on data that we have collected in class, in lab, or as part of a homework assignment. To benefit from this process, it is important that you fully participate in class and lab activities. To help keep your information private, you will be assigned an ID code in the first week of labs that is distinct from your name. This ID will be used to associate you with your lab participation and lab-based assignments. You should not share this ID with any of your classmates. Once you acquire this code, you will need to write it down and keep it in a safe place. You will not be able to participate in certain assignments without access to this ID.

The Class Webpage

I will post lecture notes and other materials relevant to the class on the class web page. You should treat the class web page as your primary syllabus. I will be updating it on a regular basis and it will be your responsibility to keep up-to-date on any changes that are made. (I will, however, announce significant changes in the lecture sessions.) The lecture-topical schedule listed below is preliminary and will change as a function of how quickly or slowly we are progressing though the course. If you do not have Internet access at home, please visit one of the many student computer facilities on campus.


This class will be a hand's on course. What I mean by that is that you'll be learning "how" to do things more than learning about things themselves. You will regularly be asked to write brief reports based on lab activities. In addition to those written reports, you will be in charge of writing three major research papers over the course of the semester based on data that you and your classmates collect. There will also be quasi-weekly quizzes at the start of Tuesday lectures. Final grades of A, B, C, D, and F will be used; I do not use the + and - system in this class.

Your final grade will be weighted in the following manner:

20% Attendance and participation in lab activities
Lab exercises will typically be completed in lab or at home. These assignments are designed to assess what you've learned thus far and whether you've mastered the skills that were taught in lecture and lab. They will be graded in an all-or-none fashion.

20% Quizzes
There will be short, 10-min long quizzes at the start of most lectures. The purpose of these quizzes is to assess your learning thus far. There are three reasons we will be having multiple, short quizzes instead of a few long exams. First, research indicates that people learn more effectively when studying and testing their knowledge on a regular basis. Second, the average of a large number of tests is a better indication of your accomplishments than the average of a small number of tests. Third, using lecture time to administer long exams takes away time that we can spend covering material. Your lowest two quiz scores will not count toward this part of your grade. Thus, if you miss a quiz or can't attend a class, you shouldn't need to worry too much. If you already anticipate missing more than two classes due to travel, you will need to consider how this will impact your final grade before committing to the class.

20% Major Project 1 - Self-Other Agreement
A written paper that summarizes data that you collect regarding your personality traits, interests, and attitudes.

Due: Oct 15 at start of lecture.

Grading Sheet for First Major Project [PDF]

20% Major Project 2 - Ideographic Analyses
Written paper that summarizes a study you've designed and the data you've collected.

Due: Fri Nov 15 at start of lab.
Overview of Project 2 requirements. Due Nov 15. MS Word

20% Major Project 3 - Cross-sectional or experimental study
Written paper that summarizes a study you've designed and the data you've collected.

Due: Dec 10, 2013, at start of lecture. Overivew of Major Project 3 (final project) PDF

Extra Credit Opportunities

You can earn up to 3 extra percentage points toward your final grade by participating in research via the Psychology Department Subject Pool. Please note that this is not required; this is an optional, extra-credit opportunity. You can also obtain comparable 3 points of extra credit by writing an additional 3-page research report on topics in personality psychology. Please speak to your TA before Dec 1 if you are interested in this later option instead.

To learn more about the way the Subject Pool works, please see the following two PDF files: PDF1 PDF2. You will need to register in the appropriate online system to sign up for studies and receive credit.

Note: If you need to know your estimated grade at any point in the semester, please contact your TA.

Policy on Missed Assignments

Students will be eligible for a make up assignments if they notify the TA in advance of the due date. Thus, if there is a scheduling conflict that will prevent you from completing a lab assignment, please let your TA know as soon as you become aware of the conflict.

In-class quizzes cannot be made up. As noted above, your two lowest grades will be dropped; this is designed to cover all possible situations that might make it difficult for you to attend class.

All assignments must be turned in to your TA by their due dates. Grades for assignments that are turned in late will be deducted the equivalent of a full letter grade. Moreover, for each additional day that an assignment is late, an additional letter grade will be docked. Assignments that are graded in a simple "did it" or "didn't do it" fashion will be graded as "didn't do it" if not turned in on time.


Students that will require assistance in the event of an emergency should identify themselves to the instructor. Your instructor will make arrangements to assist you in moving to a Safe Area during an emergency. Safe Areas are located on each floor of the Psychology Building next to the freight elevator in the southwest corner, and they are marked on the emergency wayfaring maps found throughout the building.


A substantial portion of your performance in this course will be based on the quality of your written assignments. Please attend carefully to the quality of your writing. If you are unsure of the quality of your writing skills, please feel free to ask TAs and the instructor to review drafts of your written work before those assignments are due. Moreover, you can obtain free assistance from the Writers Workshop, part of the Center for Writing Studies. They provide free writing assistance for University of Illinois students, faculty, and staff from all disciplines and at all stages of the writing process. Discuss your writing with consultants who are experienced writers and teachers of writing. Call 333-8796 (or drop-in) to set up a 50-minute session at one of the four Workshop locations.

In your writing, please be sensitive to plagiarism. You are expected to do your own writing; you are not merely supposed to copy the writing of others. The following is paraphrased from

Plagiarism is using others' ideas and/or words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information. It may be intentional (e.g., copying or purchasing papers from an online source) or unintentional (e.g., failing to give credit for an author's ideas that you have paraphrased or summarized in your own words). Plagiarism is a problem for a number of reasons. Plagiarism is dishonest and prevents instructors from being able to assess students' authentic strengths and weaknesses and thereby help students to improve. It is crippling to your intellectual progress as it interferes with your ability to trust your own thinking, and it constipates future creative thinking. It is also an infraction of academic integrity and could result in expulsion from the university.

Schedule and Files

Note: Information about the lectures and labs will be updated each week as we progress through the course.

1. Week of Aug 27
Lecture: Introduction to the Science of Personality
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Wed Lab: No Wed lab this week
Fri Lab: Zero-acquaintance exercise

2. Week of Sept 3
Lecture: Four Limitations of Personal Experience; the Scientific Method in Personality Psychology
Lecture notes will be posted after class.
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Lab notes and assignment: MS Word
Wed Lab: No lab
Fri Lab: Unstructured observational coding

3. Week of Sept 10
Lecture: Within-person variation in psychological qualities and their assessment
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Lab notes: MS Word [Information about the module system, some details on Major Project 2, and homework assignment due next week]
Wed Lab: No lab on Wed
Fri Lab: Supervised practice with creating yourPersonality modules. Observational homework due.

4. Week of Sept 17
Lecture: Creating internet surveys and collecting data using HTML
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

(If the link/file above doesn't work, please try this one instead): PowerPoint

Links used in class:
Note: To view the raw HTML code for these files, open them in your browser window and, on Windows machines, right-click and choose the option titled 'view source'

Wed Lab: No lab
Fri Lab: Create an online questionnaire [homework]
Lab notes and assignment: PDF

5. Week of Sept 24
Lecture: Importing Data and Descriptive Statistics
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Wed Lab: No lab
Fri Lab: Importing web data and basic statistics - Design Self-Other web questionnaire for First Major Project
Note: Questionnaire due to your TA via e-mail by Sunday, Sept 29, at 7 p.m.
Additional information on Self - Other Project (First Major Project): MS Word Note: This project is due Oct 15th.

6. Week of Oct 1
Lecture: Z-scores and Correlations
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Wed Lab: No lab
Fri Lab: Working with project data

7. Week of Oct 8
Lecture: Reliability, the Properties of Random Errors, and Composite Scores
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Grading Sheet for First Major Project [PDF]
Wed Lab: No lab
Fri Lab: Working with project data

8. Week of Oct 15
Lecture: Different forms of Validity and Why They Matter

Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Wed lab: no lab
Fri lab: Lab Exercise on composites and reliability: MS Word. Due next Friday if you don't complete it in lab.

9. Week of Oct 22
Lecture: Within-person variation in psychological qualities and their assessment: Follow up on 30-day project
Lecture notes: backup link
Lecture notes: PowerPoint
Overview of Project 2 requirements. Due Nov 15. MS Word

Additional files:
Fraley mood data: txt file
Fraley coffee data: txt file
Fraley weight data: txt file
Fraley combined step 1: MS Excel file
Fraley combined step 2: MS Excel file

Wed Lab: no lab Fri Lab: Work on Project # 2. Exercises on within-person analyses MS Word

10. Week of Oct 29
Lecture: Making Inferences about Causality: Experiments, Sample Selection, Partial Correlations, Statistical Control
Lecture notes: PPT

Wed Lab: No lab
Fri Lab: Partial correlation exercises

Note: Online partial correlation calculator is available here.
Partial correlation assignment for lab is available here: [PowerPoint version].
Partial correlation assignment for lab is available here: [PDF version].

11. Week of Nov 5
Lecture: Basic linear regression and multiple regression
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Wed: no lab
Fri Lab:Regression exercises
Lab Worksheet: PDF

Right-click and save the SPSS files to your lab computer.
Lab Dataset 1: Achievement.sav SPSS
Lab Dataset 2: WTC.sav SPSS
Lab Dataset 3: Morality.sav SPSS

12. Week of Nov 12
Lecture: Factor Analysis in Individual Differences Research: The Basics
Lecture notes: PowerPoint

Lab Worksheet: PDF

Right-click and save the SPSS files to your lab computer.
Lab Dataset 1: zero acquaintance ratings - self ratings SPSS

Wed Lab: no lab
Fri Lab: Factor analysis worksheet

13. Week of Nov 19
Lecture: Overview of Major Project 3. Lab group workshops.

Overview of Major Project 3 (final project) PDF

Wed Lab: No lab (updated 11/19/2013)
Fri Lab: Overview of Major Project 3. Begin design.

14. Week of Nov 26

15. Week of Dec 3
Lecture: Testing Theories: The Problem of Sampling Error

Wed Lab: lab - final project work
Fri Lab: lab - final project work

16. Week of Dec 10
TBA. project 3 due