Michael W. Katzko, Huib Valkenberg & Hubert J.M. Hermans
University of Nijmegen, Department of Clinical and Personality Psychology, The Netherlands

E-mail:katzko@psych.kun.nl

 

TRAIT GENERALIZATIONS VIEWED AS ORGANIZING TENDENCIES AND AS VALUES

 

Although people can generalize about their behavioral tendencies, questions still remain concerning how people perceive and evaluate such generalizations and what function such generalizations have in the production of actual behavior. These questions will be explored in two studies which vary how the behavioral items on the NEO-PI are presented to and evaluated by respondents. In both studies the data were analyzed using cluster analysis techniques, presented as one alternative to assessing the complexity of personality. In the first study, NEO-PI behavioral items are used as row elements in a grid method - specifically, the Personal Position Repertoire - to explore the organizing function of these behavioral tendencies. Individuals scoring high vs. low on the NEO-PI neuroticism scale were compared on how they perceive trait-relevant items, viewed as 'positions', as varying across persons and situations. In the second study, NEO-PI behavioral items were treated as 'valuations' or 'meanings' and rated as such using the Self-Confrontation rating methodology. Results are evaluated in terms of the extent to which trait items are perceived as meaningful to a respondent, and the degree of correspondence between the behavioral items grouped as traits versus their grouping as valuations.