Personality in the Social Process

Personality in the Social Process

Personality in the Social Process

Personality in the Social Process

Excerpt

This book presents a new way to ask an old question. Many fields have considered the nature of the influence that members of a group exert on the course of social events. Social science provides another way to examine this issue. Moreover, social science has a particular strength: It helps us to phrase questions more precisely than before, it encourages us to follow a line of reasoning systematically, and it requires us to evaluate our ideas in light of a particular kind of evidence. We want to use these strengths to explore systematically the ways that factors in the person and in the environment together may shape the emergence of social behavior.

When we began to outline this type of model, we did not envision how complex, demanding, or rewarding the project was to be. One of our pleasant surprises was to learn that, despite the use of widely varying ways to conceptualize personality processes, a massive body of empirical evidence is available which, when considered collectively, provides strong support for a core set of hypotheses about the ways that personality variables become part of the process of social interaction. It was even more exciting to discern a clear pattern in the types of social events that result from the influence of personality processes across widely varying situations.

At present, this kind of discussion is usually stated in the form of interactional theories, which attempt to specify how personality and environmental variables jointly determine adaptive behavior. We want to use the available empirical work to generate a model that is more systematic and specific than has been attempted to now. We also want to outline a set of deductions from a fairly well-shared set of initial premises about the elements of personality and social psychology that, at least, have the merit of being clear. If the reasoning used is faulty or the predictions inaccurate, then it should be . . .

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