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PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES ...

PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES ...

PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES

PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES Intraindividual Stability in the Organization and Patterning of Behavior: Incorporating Psychological Situations Into the Idiographic Analysis of Personality Yuichi Shoda, Walter Mischel, and Jack C. Wright In nomothetic analyses, the cross-situational consistency of individual differences in social behavior, assessed in vivo in a camp setting, depended on the similarity in the psychological features of situations. As predicted by the social-cognitive theory of personality, idiographic analyses revealed that individuals were characterized by stable profiles of;/. . . then . . . , situation-behavior relationships that formed "behavioral signatures" of personality (e.g., he aggresses when warned by adults but complies when threatened by peers. Thus, the intraindividual organization of behavior variation across situations was enduring but discriminatively patterned, visible as distinctive profiles of situation-behavior relationships. Implications were examined for an idiographic reconceptualization of personality coherence and its behavioral expressions in relation to the psychological ingredients of situations. Allport (1937) introduced the concept of idiographic analyses half a century ago, urging personologists to understand each individual deeply in terms of how that person functions, instead of just studying "the operations of a hypothetical 'average' mind" (p. 61). Nonetheless, the idiographic focus has been bypassed by mainstream personality psychology. Probably this neglect reflects not a lack of interest but an absence of appropriate methods and theory for studying individual functioning in ways that are objective and scientific rather than intuitive and clinical. In our view, understanding individual functioning requires identifying first the psychological situations that engage a particular person's characteristic personality processes and the dis- Yuichi Shoda and Walter Mischel, Department of Psychology, Columbia University; Jack C. Wright, Department of Psychology, Brown University, and Wediko Children's Services, Boston, Massachusetts. Portions of the present results were presented in Yuichi Shoda's 1991 Society of Experimental Social Psychology Dissertation Award address, Columbus, Ohio, October 1991. Preparation of this article and the research was supported in part by Grants MH39349 and MH45994 to Walter Mischel from the National Institute of Mental Health. We thank the administration, staff, and children of Wediko Children's Services, whose cooperation made this research possible. We are especially grateful to Hugh Leichtman and Harry Parad, Wediko's directors, for their support and Mary Powers, Philip Fisher, and Cynthia Scott for their assistance in data collection. We thank Niall Bolger, Nancy Cantor, Daniel Cervone, Chi Yue Chiu, Ying Yi Hong, Kristi Lemm, and Monica Larrea Rodriguez for their valuable comments on drafts of this article. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Yuichi Shoda or Walter Mischel, Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1994, Vol. 67, No. 4, 674-687 Copyright 1994 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. OO22-3514/94/S3.0O 674 tinctive cognitions and affects that are experienced in them. Then, an individual's functioning should become visible in the distinctive or unique ways the person's behavior changes across situations, not just in its overall level or mean frequency. For example, a person may often behave in a warm and empathic way with her colleagues at work but almost always in a very critical manner with her family. Another person may show the opposite pattern, so that he is warm and empathic with his family but critical with his professional colleagues. If two people are similar in their behaviors averaged across situations but differ in the situations in which they display those behaviors, are these differences merely a reflection of momentary situational influences? Or do such differences reflect differences in enduring and meaningful aspects of their personality? These are the main questions addressed in this article. In social-cognitive theory, 1 individual differences in patterns of behavior across situations reflect such underlying person variables as the individuals' encoding or construals of their experiences, and their expectations, values, goals and self-regulatory strategies (Mischel, 1973, 1990). These relatively enduring person variables within the individual interact with situational characteristics to generate stable but discriminative patterns of behavior. It is these "unique bundles or sets of temporally stable prototypic behaviors" (Mischel & Peake, 1982, p. 754), contextualized in relevant psychological situations, that constitute a locus in which personality coherence may be revealed (Mischel 1990, 1991; Shoda, 1990; Shoda, Mischel, & Wright, 1993a, 1993b; Wright & Mischel, 1987). A major goal of the present 1 In current usage, the terms social cognitive and cognitive social appear increasingly as essentially interchangeable descriptions of this general approach to personality and social behavior (e.g., Mischel, 1993).

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