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Chapter 4

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Western University
Psychology 2550A/B
David Vollick

September 16/18, 2013 Chapter 4: The Expression of Dispositions The Intuitive Assumption of Consistency • We expect people to behave similarly across situations o Studies of cross-situational consistency in behavior examined what people claimed they were like, and what they actually did in different situations o Many founded the consistency in actual behavior (e.g., conscientiousness) in different situations (e.g., at home, at school) to be much less than expected o Sometimes we think we’re better than we think we are, sometimes not The 1968 Challenge • Mischel (1968,1973) argued that these findings reflected limitations not just in the methods but also in the core assumptions about consistency and coherence in personality theory • These are situational The Paradox Defined • Ben and Allen (1974) noted the personality paradox: Extensive research indicates low cross-situational consistency of behavior, but intuition leads us to assume consistency. Which one is right • A long person versus situation debate followed The Person versus Situation Debate • Fundamental attribution error, incorrectly viewing personality dispositions, and not situation effects, as expiations for behavior • Contributions to the debate: o Several influential critiques of personality research published in the late 1960s o Situationists – personality was a fictitious construct that situations are more powerful determinants of behavior than personality dispositions o Personality psychologists who treated situations as error variance – personality is most important  = The extent the person was important, the situation was not, and vice versa Incorporating Situations into Traits • How do we reconcile the fact that individuals do vary across situations, yet also exhibit stable personalities? – If…Then... Situation – Behavior Signatures • Individuals often exhibit consistent b
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