Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Consistency, philosophy, logic: within a system, consistency may be demonstrated, but not beyond the boundaries of this system, since the use of the symbols and the set of possible objects are only defined for this system.
Within mathematics, and only there applies that the mathematical objects, which are mentioned in consistent formulas, exist (Hilbert, Über das Unendliche, 1926). See also falsification, verification, existence, well-formed.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 46
Consistency/Situations/Personality/Mischel/Asendorpf: The first large study ((s) in order to test the consistency of behavior of persons in different situations) was conducted by Hartshorne and May (1928)(1) who designed eight tests and observational settings in order to observe inter-individual differences in honest behaviour among more than 800 school children. The cross-situational consistency between two such situations was only .19 which was much lower than the retest stability within situations. This problem was debated for some time but remained unresolved and nearly forgotten until Mischel (1968)(2) revived this consistency debate by more empirical evidence, proposing a ‘magic limit’ of .30 for what he called the ‘cross-situational consistency of behaviour’. His conclusion was that traits exist only in the eye of the observers but have no reality, because behaviour is so much situation-dependent. >Personality Traits/Psychological Theories, >Situations/Psychological Theories.

1. Hartshorne, H. and May, M. A. 1928. Studies in the nature of character, vol. 1, Studies in deceit. New York: MacMillan
2. Mischel, W. 1968. Personality and assessment. New York: Wiley

Jens B. Asendorpf, “Personality: Traits and situations”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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Corr II 106
Consistency/Mischel/Fleeson/Noftle/Eysenck, M.W.: Fleeson and Noftle (2008)(1) argued that we can potentially identify 36 concepts of consistency. For example, we can assess behavioural consistency across time, situation content, or behaviour content. Measures of consistency can involve correlating two single behaviours or aggregates of behaviour. In addition, we can distinguish between absolute consistency (i.e., the extent to which each individual’s behaviour is the same across situations) and relative consistency (i.e., the extent to which each individual’s behaviour relative to other individuals remains the same across situations).
II 109
Mischel (1968)(2) [argued that] individuals typically exhibit far less behavioural consistency across situations than would be predicted from the trait approach.
II 110
VsMischel: (…) Mischel (1968)(2) failed to consider consistency findings in the personality literature in the context of psychology generally. Meyer et al. (2001)(3) considered numerous findings across many areas within psychology. The typical finding was that the modal effect size expressed as a correlation was between +.10 and +.40 for psychology as a whole. (…) Mischel (1968)(2) [also] exaggerated the value of high consistency between, say, a measure of personality and some behavioural measure but minimized the nature of the behavioural outcome being predicted. In contrast, major personality traits have been shown to have a wide range of applicability to important real-world outcomes even though there was only moderate consistency or predictability. [Furthermore,] Mischel argued that individuals display very
II 111
limited cross-situational consistency on the basis of studies that had mostly assessed consistency by correlating single behaviours in different situations. This approach has the disadvantage that there can be substantial errors of measurement when the focus is on single behaviours (Epstein, 1977)(4). Finally, there are criticisms to be made of Mischel’s (1968) predominant emphasis on personality and situational factors as independent factors that influence behaviour. The four influences largely or totally ignored by Mischel are as follows:
(1) influence of personal factors (e.g., personality) on the situation;
(2) influence of behaviour on personal factors (e.g., personality;
(3) influence of behaviour on the situation; and
(4) influence of the situation on personal factors (e.g., personality).
Of most relevance here is the notion that the situations individuals choose to be in are determined in part by their personality. In most research, the experimenter determines the situations in which participants find themselves and they are unable to change or control the situation. With such research, it is impossible to demonstrate the impact of personality on situational choice.

1. Fleeson, W., & Noftle, E. E. (2008). Where does personality have its influence? A supermatrix of consistency concepts. Journal of Personality, 76, 1355–1385.
2. Mischel, W. (1968). Personality and assessment. London: Wiley.
3. Meyer, G. J., Finn, S. E., Eyde, L. D., Kay, G. G., Moreland, K. L., Dies, R. R., et al. (2001). Psychological testing and psychological assessment. American Psychologist, 56, 128–165.
4. Epstein, S. (1977). Traits are alive and well. In D. Magnusson & N. S. Endler (Eds.), Personality at the crossroads: Current issues in interactional psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Eysenck, Michael W.: “The Challenge to Trait Theory Revisiting Mischel (1968)”, In: Philip J. Corr (Ed.) 2018. Personality and Individual Differences. Revisiting the classical studies. Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne: Sage, p.p 101-114.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Mischel, Walter
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018

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