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What is the situationist argument all about (Mischel)?

Personality psychology, which tries to predict personality, is doing a crappy job according to Mischel. There is an upper limit to how well we can predict what people will do based on personality. Therefore, situations are more important than personality traits in determining behaviour. People tend to see others as being more consistent across situations than they really are.
He talks about an upper limit around .3-.4 when in reality, it is .8


What are the responses to Mischels argument from personality psychologists?

They will excuse the imperfect results with the fact that people are complex and hard to describe precisely. Every simple model will fail.

Using one personality variable to predict behaviour is impossible. But so is predicting behaviour from on situational variable.

It is known that when social psychology studies are based on small samples with high correlation, that these studies most highly won’t replicate.


What is a moderator variable?

A moderator variable changes the relationship between two other variables that affect the relationship between personality and various outcomes.


How does a moderator variable work?

Moderator variables can be thought of as “switches” that turn on or turn off the link between personality and behaviour. But not totally a switch, the moderator variable will just affect the degree in which personality will predict behaviour.


What is the 4 types of moderators?

Features of the person, the trait, the behavior and the situation.


Features of the person?

For which people is personality important for predicting behaviour? Things that can turn up or down the ability to link their behaviour to their personality.

Self monitoring: high is when you try to fit into different situations and change. Low is when your personality is easily predicted from your personality.


Features of the trait?

For which trait is the personality best illustrated? Observability helps predict someone's behavior.


Features of the behavior?

Prototypicality: these behaviors are the ones that are readily predicted from measures of traits.


Features of the situation?

What situations most allow you to detect the effect of personality on behaviour? Strong vs weak situations.
In weak situations, you can see people’s personality in their behaviour. Personality --> behaviour.
In strong situations, there are restrictions on your personality. Situation --> behaviour.


What are precipitating situations?

It is a subset of strong situations, but they don’t cause a shift towards the situation being the dominant influence on behaviour. Instead it shifts one to act more in the core with one’s dispositions - for example, when voting.

"A kind of strong situation that encourages people to “be who they are” and engage in dispositionally-based behaviors."


Different important life outcomes

Mortality, divorce, occupational outcomes


Relation between mortality and personality?

Low IQ has a positive effect on dying early.
High SES (socioeconomic status) has a modest link with living a long life.
Conscientiousness seems to be the best characteristic for living a long life, then extraversion, neuroticism and agreeableness.


Relation between divorce and personality?

Conscientiousness protects against divorce, neuroticism increases the likelihood, agreeableness protects against divorce.


Relation between occupational outcomes and personality?

SES is more important here. IQ is substantial important. Parental income also has an impact on the child’s occupational effect (but it probably overstates). Correlation a little over .2 with personality traits and occupational outcomes (high extraversion, agreeableness, low neuroticism, high conscientiousness).


What is automaticity (goal pursuit)?

When our strategies no longer require our attention.


What is conscious goal pursuit?

When you have to pay attention and think about what you’re doing and why.


What is thought suppressing goal pursuit?

When we try to reach our goals by suppressing thoughts incompatible with those goals. But it can be hard to try to suppress an exact thing or thought.


What is priming?

The process of activating knowledge or goals – of making them ready to use.


What is self-concept?

Knowledge about ourselves. Our self is an object to be understood by our mind.


What is self-esteem?

Attitude towards oneself. It influences how you think, feel and act.


What is self-regulation?

The process through which people select, monitor, and adjust their strategies in an attempt to reach their goals.


What is self-presentation?

The process where we try to control the impressions people form of us. It colors much of our social lives.


What are affordances?

The opportunities and threats that people and situations provide.


What are descriptive norms?

Information about what most people commonly do in a situation. What people actually do.


What are pluralistic ignorance?

When people in a group misperceive the beliefs of others because everyone acts inconsistently with their beliefs.


What are injunctive norms?

What is typically approved and disapproved of in the situation. What people should do.


What are some situational influences?

Affordances, descriptive norms, pluralistic ignorance, injunctive norms...


What are the three different types of consequential outcomes?

Individual, interpersonal, and social/institutional.


What are individual outcomes?

Those outcomes that can be manifested by an individual outside of a social context. They don’t have to depend upon a social process to give meaning to the outcome variable.


What are interpersonal outcomes?

This is outcomes that inherently involve other individuals. It matters who the others are. One of the most important tasks faced by individuals is the establishment and maintenance of successful relationships with friends and peers, family and romantic partners.