When Do Individual Differences Matter? A Paradoxical Theory of Personality Coherence
We propose that individual differences in personality should be studied during periods of environmental change because these periods provide an opportunity to discern the general mechanisms that govern the functions and processes of personality. We delineate the circumstances wherein personality differences are accentuated and then specify the conditions whereby change is produced. Personality differences are likely to be revealed during transitions into unpredictable new situations, when there is a press to behave but no information about how to behave adaptively. Dispositional differences are thus accentuated as each person seeks to transform novel, ambiguous, and uncertain circumstances into familiar, clear, and expectable social encounters. Our theory also accounts for turning points in behavioral development: Systematic change is likely to occur during transitions into new situations, when there is a press to behave and when previous responses are actively discouraged while clear information is provided about how to behave adaptively. © 1993, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
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