venerdì 5 agosto 2016

1 What Is Personality and Why Does the Welfare State

1 What Is Personality and Why Does the Welfare StateRead more at location 137
Note: 1@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Edit
almost 20 years ago, the eminent Swedish economist Assar Lindbeck warned that ‘the supply of benefits creates its own demand. Indeed, moral hazard and cheating are, in my judgement, the weak spot of the welfare state’ (Lindbeck,Read more at location 145
the Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman summarised this literature as follows: Participation in generous welfare states leads to erosion of the work ethic and withdrawal from participation in the social compact. There is evidence of cohort drift in welfare participation. Those cohorts who have lived a greater fraction of their lives under the generosity of the welfare state come to accept its benefits and game the system at higher rates.Read more at location 148
The biological literature also urges caution: in his seminal 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins described the welfare state as perhaps the greatest example of altruism in the animal kingdom but warned of its self-destructive potential.Read more at location 153
childhood disadvantage has been shown in randomised controlled experiments – the gold standard of scientific proof – to promote the formation of an aggressive, antisocial and rule-breaking personality profile that impairs occupational and social adjustment during adulthood (Heckman, Pinto & Savelyev, 2013). A welfare state that increases the number of children born into disadvantaged households therefore risks increasing the number of citizens who develop an aggressive, antisocial and rule-breaking personality profile due to being exposed to disadvantage during childhood.Read more at location 163
In Chapter 3 – ‘The Lifelong Impact of Personality’ – we address this issue by examining studies that record personality characteristics in childhood and then trace their effects on adult life, whilst controlling for the effect of other important variables such as intelligence and parental socio-economic status (SES).Read more at location 181
A key conclusion in Chapter 3 is that the employment-resistant personality profile doesn’t just impair workplace performance – it also increases the frequency of behaviour that is likely to impair the life chances of the next generation (for example, teenage parenthood). This is a crucial finding because it suggests that individuals with employment-resistant personality characteristics not only suffer impaired life outcomes, but also transmit that difficulty to their childrenRead more at location 186
Note: I DANNI Edit
In Chapter 4 – ‘The Influence of Benefits on Claimant Reproduction’ – we shall see that the number of children born to welfare claimants tracks the generosity of benefits, with increases in the generosity of welfare benefits being followed by deliberate increases in their rate of reproduction via altered contraception usage.Read more at location 191
In Chapter 5 – ‘Childhood Disadvantage and Employment-Resistance’ – we shall see that the disadvantage suffered by children of welfare claimants is not only a matter of financial irresponsibility but also a matter of parental style: despite having more free time, welfare claimants tend to speak to their children significantly less often than employed parents do.Read more at location 198
the transmission of personality characteristics from parent to child cannot be explained by environmental factors alone. In Chapter 6 – ‘Genetic Influences on Personality’ – we shall see evidence that the missing link in the transmission of personality characteristics from parent to child is genetic,Read more at location 205
personality traits in populations of non-human animals can be significantly altered by selective breeding.Read more at location 208
In Chapter 7 – ‘Personality as a Product of Nature and Nurture’ – we examine research aimed at comparing genetic and environmental influences on human personality and see evidence that the more closely related two people are, the more similar their personalities tend to be.Read more at location 214
Chapters 5–7 show that, because human personality is a product of nature and nurture (and their interplay), the children of employment-resistant welfare claimants are not only disadvantaged through a greater likelihood of being neglected, but also by a higher risk of inheriting the genes for the employment-resistant personality profile, compared to children born to adults with a pro-employment personality profile.Read more at location 219
In Chapter 8 – ‘A Model of How the Welfare State Leads to Personality Mis-Development’ – I build on these foundations by using a statistical model to obtain a quantitative estimate of the scale of welfare-induced personality mis-development.Read more at location 225
In Chapter 9 – ‘Further Evidence for Welfare-Induced Personality Mis-Development’ – I summarise evidence that is circumstantial but nevertheless consistent with the notion that the welfare state is changing the developmental trajectory of the personality profile of the population towards greater employment-resistance. For example, we shall see that the introduction of the welfare state amongst the nations of the Western world has been followed by a substantial decrease in work motivation and an upsurge in criminal violence.Read more at location 230
As a supplement for this book, I have created an online personality questionnaire that you can use to measure your own personality.Read more at location 262
Note: TEST Edit
This questionnaire divides the domain of personality into five dimensions, which is the current industry standard model of personality, often known as the ‘Big Five’ (for example, Digman, 1990; Costa & McCrae, 1992; Goldberg, 1993).Read more at location 264
Note: BIG 5 Edit
Extraversion reflects engagement with the external world, especially engagement with people. Individuals who score high on this trait (often labelled as extraverts) typically enjoy being with people, are usually full of energy and experience frequent positive emotions.Read more at location 269
Individuals who score low in the lower range on extraversion (often labelled as introverts) typically have a rich internal life and need less stimulation form the external world than more extraverted individuals do.Read more at location 274
Conscientiousness reflects the extent to which we focus on detail and manage our affairs in a self-disciplined manner. Individuals scoring high on this trait come across as careful, cautious, planning, dutiful and detail-minded.Read more at location 280
Low scorers on conscientiousness are typically impulsive and tend to skip over detail, preferring instead to focus on the bigger picture.Read more at location 285
Agreeableness reflects individual differences in cooperation and social harmony. Individuals in the high range on agreeableness value getting along with others and generally appear easy-going, fair-minded and nice.Read more at location 290
Note: EMPATIA Edit
Individuals in the low range on agreeableness tend to put their own needs ahead of those of other people and generally come across as tough-minded, uncooperative and assertive.Read more at location 296
Neuroticism describes the likelihood of a person experiencing negative emotions in response to everyday situations. People who score low on this trait rarely experience negative emotion and tend to be calm almost all the time.Read more at location 299
Low scorers on neuroticism tend to excel in occupations such as medicine, police work or military aviation that require the individual frequently to deal with upsetting or scary situationsRead more at location 302
Openness to experience reflects an individual’s interest in imaginative or intellectual matters. People with high scores on openness to experience are intellectually curious, appreciative of art and sensitive to beauty.Read more at location 313
One analogy I use to help my students understand this functional difference is to compare a person to a car: that person’s level of intelligence represents the horsepower of the car’s engine whereas their personality represents the steering system of the car, determining the goals at which they direct the problem-solving power of their intelligence. This is a well-established idea. For example, in 1739, the Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote in his famous book A Treatise of Human Nature that ‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them’Read more at location 327
Sometimes a crucial experiment (experimentum crucis) can tip the balance towards a particular narrative.Read more at location 340
Other narratives, such as the principle of evolution by natural selection, or the welfare trait theory that is presented in this book, concern slow, large-scale processes that are unsuited to testing in a laboratory. In these cases, we take a bird’s eye view of the facts of the matter and attempt to decide which narrative they best support.Read more at location 347
1.  The welfare state should be retained without change. 2.  The welfare state should be abolished. 3.  The welfare state should be amended to take account of personality.Read more at location 351
As we will see, the evidence for any of these three narratives is far from conclusive, but in my opinion, at this early stage in the scientific discussion of personality and welfare, the third narrative is the best supported.Read more at location 354
Note: TESI Edit
Awareness of previous discoveries is known as ‘mastering the literature’, which is an unglamorous but crucial part of professional science because, if we haven’t mastered the literature, we are likely to waste time trying to discover something that has already been discovered.Read more at location 366
Peer review is the second specialist part of professional science. It is a form of academic quality control in which draft manuscripts are subjected to the scrutiny of scientists who are experts in the field in question but who were not involved in writing the manuscript being reviewed.Read more at location 372
The physicist Richard Feynman warned in a similar vein in the conclusion of his report about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 that ‘For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.’ Applied to the present topic, the advice of great thinkers such as Russell and Feynman means that to create a successful welfare state – that looks after unemployed citizens but does not encourage the development of the employment-resistant personality profile – we would be wise to face up to the facts on personality, even if it is politically incorrect to do so.Read more at location 402
I prefer instead to let the data speak for themselves whilst accepting, as George Orwell declared, that ‘no book is genuinely free from political bias’ and it would be presumptuous of me to suppose that this book is an exception to that rule.Read more at location 441