Predicting more of the people more of the time: Assessing the personality of situations

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Abstract

The developing consensus that much of the psychologically interesting variance in behavior will be found in the interaction between the person and the situation suggests the need for a common language of description for both persons and situations. Accordingly, it is proposed that a situation be characterized by a set of template-behavior pairs, which is a set of personality descriptions (Q sorts) of hypothetical “ideal” persons, each one associated with a particular behavior. The Q-sort description of a particular individual is then matched against each template, and he or she is predicted to display the behavior associated with the most similar template. The heuristic and predictive utility of this template matching technique is demonstrated in 3 classical experimental settings: (a) the delay-of-gratification situation, (b) the mixed-motive game, and (c) the forced-compliance experiment. This technique can also be used to assess the ecological validity of laboratory experiments and to test competing theories of psychological phenomena. (54 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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