Does personality provide unique explanations for behaviour? Personality as cross-person variability in general principles

  • Higgins E
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Abstract

The author proposes that personality does not provide unique explanations for human behavior. Two principles, accessibility as a 'cognitive' principle and regulatory focus as a 'motivational' principle, are used to illustrate how personality can be reconceptualized as a cross-person source of variability in the functioning of general psychological principles that have situational sources of variability as well. For each of these principles, evidence is presented that 'persons' and 'situations' as sources of variability have similar effects. The article then provides some other examples of psychological principles having similar effects when either persons or situations are the source of variability. The utility of a 'general principles' perspective for understanding the many ways that persons, groups, and situations can contribute to manifesting the same pattern of principles, and how some patterns are more adaptive than others are also discussed. The implications there being multiple ways of manifesting the same pattern are then considered for the classic issues of when personality is revealed and what is its range of applicability. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

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Authors

  • E. Tory Higgins

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