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CONSISTENCY AND SPECIFICITY IN BEHAVIOR

For more than fifty years personality psychologists have tried to measure traits and states in order to discover personality structure and dynamics. There has been an enormous effort to investigate the reliability and, more recently, the validity of the results. This chapter examines some of the evidence for the assumption of generalized personality traits and states. Empirically, the generality of a trait is established by the associations found among trait indicators. The evidence consists of obtained correlations between behaviors measured across similar situations. Data that demonstrate strong generality in the behavior of the same person across many situations are critical for trait and state personality theories; the construct of personality itself rests on the belief that individual behavioral consistencies exist widely and account for much of the variance in behavior. Most definitions of personality hinge on the assumption that an individual's behavior is consistent across many stimulus conditions (e.g., Sanford, 1963).

Data on the generality-specificity of behavior usually fall under the rubric of "reliability" and are separated from "validity" evidence, This distinction between reliability and validity is not very sharp. Both reliability and validity are established by demonstrating relations between responses to various stimulus conditions. The stimulus conditions are the particular measures and settings used to sample responses. Reliability concerns the congruence among responses measured under maximally similar stimulus conditions ( Campbell, 1960; Campbell & Fiske, 1959). Validity, in contradistinction to reliability, requires convergence between responses to maximally different, inde-

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Personality and Assessment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction to the Republished Edition xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Consistency and Specificity in Behavior 13
  • 3 - Traits and States As Constructs 41
  • 4 - Personality Correlates 73
  • 5 - Utility 103
  • 6 - Principles of Social Behavior 149
  • 7 - Behavior Change 193
  • 8 - Assessment for Behavior Change 235
  • 9 - Personality and Prediction 281
  • References 303
  • Author Index 339
  • Subject Index 347
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