Personality Essay

1852 words - 7 pages

/ 7 BEHAVIOR CHANGE If behavior is regulated by highly specific stimulus variables and contingencies, then both assessment and psychotherapy need to be much less global and far more pinpointed enterprises than they usually have been. It also becomes clear why global estimates of the overall strength or frequency of broad response dispositions, as in trait-state descriptions of people as generally "hostile," "aggressive," "passive-dependent," "neurotic," or "anxious," have turned out to have little utility beyond gross screening. Instead, a more useful type of assessment would have to deal with behavior in relation to specific contingencies and discriminative conditions. For example, it would have to specify for the "hostile" man just when and how he is hostile, and just when he shows more, and when less, of his hostile behavior. In this manner it becomes possible to go beyond mere global characterizations of another person and, instead, to discover the conditions that influence his behavior. Then, if desired, these conditions can be altered so that more advantageous behavior becomes possible for him. Behavior assessments are not intended to assign the individual into a diagnostic category, nor to infer his traits and dynamics, nor to predict his position on a personality dimension or in an unknown situation. Instead, the main purpose of social behavior assessment is to design treatments that most appropriately suit the particular client's objectives As a starting point we must consider the meaning of problematic behavior. Then the remainder of this chapter, and the next one, will examine how the principles discussed in the previous chapter guide the conduct of behavior change and assessment. -193- Questia Media America, Inc. Publication Information: ?h Publication Title: Personality and Assessment ?h Contributors: Walter Mischel - author ?h Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates ?h Place of Publication: Mahwah, NJ ?h Page Number: 193 ?h Publication Year: 1996 / 4 PERSONALITY CORRELATES Even if individuals show less cross-situational consistency in their behavior than has been assumed, numerous relationships do exist of course among a person's response patterns. Correlations frequently occur between a person's behaviors evoked under many different conditions, and therefore responses in any one situation can serve as signs of other things that the individual is likely to do in new circumstances. Personality psychology has studied these relationships extensively since the earliest work on individual differences began at the turn of the century. Research of this kind seeks correlations among an individual's patterns of responses to different standardized eliciting conditions or tests. In this correlational strategy, test batteries are administered and the empirical associations between responses to these tests or stimulus conditions provide indices of how strongly an individual's behavior converges across situations. More recently,...

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