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Western University
Psychology 4223F/G
Eric Ball

Knowing a little more about the history of the concept will allow you to see it today a little different For the longest time, the writings of Gordon Allport, there was a strong intuition that traits exist, there were broad pervasive consistencies in the behaviour of people that we all have, naturally The fact that behaviours are consistent are seen when measuring behaviours of different situations and correlate the two measures and presumable if people are consistent with their behaviour, they will have high correlate=cross situated consistent, indication of high correlation between different situations Throughout 40s 50s and 60s, many studies done on cross situations, Walter Michelle decided to look at the literature and wrote a book about it “personality assessments” which he observed that when you observe ones behaviour in one situation, and correlate it with behaviour in another situation what you get a re really low and disappointed correlated, never gets above .3, Michelle called this the personality coefficient ceiling, never get above .3 Inspite of the fact that people have outstanding intuition that traits exist, Michelle said that people have no consistency of the way they act in different situations and they do not correlate in any magnitude, and he argued on that basis, given the literature he collected, and even took it a step further saying personality doesn’t exist, no stable reliable regularities in behaviour, behaviour is determined by the situation, not by the characteristics of an individual Traits are no utility, you must know situational variables, e.g. if one was going to predict if you were going to say anything in the next 60 seconds, its more important to know if your at a part or a lecture theatre rather which is much more relevant than if you are introverted or extroverted This book produced a ‘paradigm crisis’people stopped wanting to be psychologist scientists, because this book proved there was nothing to study, the field was killed in 1968, and it took a long time for the few remaining psychologists to prove Michelle wrong, and it took about a decade, late 1970s Probably the most important problem for the reply is the most boring, had the most bland reply, but is critical, a psychologist named Cy Epstein observed that if you measure behaviour in a single estimation, your punctuality to one class, one party, what you have is crap, any single measure of behaviour in a single situation is loaded with error variance, very likely not reliable, with all of the studies Michelle studied, was a crappy measure of behaviour in two different situations, so if you try to correlate the two crappy measures, you get crap, no wonder that when you measure consistency you get garbage What we need are new studies where behaviour is reliably measured if your going to demonstrate validity Ina series of studies, Epstein took measurements of peoples behaviours not only once but many (not punctuality of one class, but 10 classes) and averages it together=aggregating Maybe on any one particular class you’re a little bit earlier or later, but when averaging you get a good indicator, all those little errors embedded in each individual score is cancelled out and you get a much more reliable measure Epstein showed in a large series of studies that when you average peoples behaviours, you get cross situational consistency that averages above the .3 ceiling, far more impressive consistencies This was the beginning, evidence that people are consistent across situations but you need to look at them in many situations, standing view in the 1980s Another view that tried to recognize the fact that when you look at the people in situation to some extent they stay the some, but to some extent they also tend to change, consistency isn’t perfect, some degree, but not perfect and people want to account for that To some extent behaviour is a function of the person and their traits, but to some extent it’s a function of the situation and the parameter Person and situation combine, how does the person interact with the situation to produce behaviour In the 1980s there was an emerging rise of the interactionists, but there was no good theory of interactionists, until Michelle did, who made a very good return and published a paper and theory called the CognitiveAffective Processing System
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