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Invited Symposium

Persons in Context

Sunday, May 24, 2009, 9:00 AM - 10:20 AM
Yerba Buena 8

Ying-yi Hong Chair: Ying-yi Hong
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

It has been a challenge in the study of personality to identify and understand the psychological processes that distinctively characterize individuals, and that underlie the stable patterns of variations in their thoughts, feelings and actions across contexts and over time. This symposium features three papers that address this challenge from different perspectives. The goal is to provide the audience with new theories and tools for understanding persons in context.

Cecilia Cheng

Who Moved My Cheese? Flexible Coping With Vicissitudes in the Ever-Changing World
Cecilia Cheng
University of Hong Kong
In the ever-changing environment, some people may deploy different coping strategies across stressful situations. Variability in strategy deployment does not necessarily indicate random responses. A relative "stability" can be observed if there is a good fit between the characteristics of coping strategies and specific demands of stressful situations.

Yuichi Shoda

Beyond Cronbach's Dilemma
Yuichi Shoda
University of Washington
In 1975 Lee Cronbach applauded the progress made in discovering the person x situation interactions. At the same time, however, he expressed his dismay that 'however far we carry our analysis - to third order or fifth order or any other - untested interactions of a still higher order can be envisioned' (p.119). In this talk, I will explore how we may go beyond this dilemma by focusing on characterizing the effects of situation variables within each individual first, and then collectively embarking on meaningful groupings of individuals who share similar underlying cognitive and affective dynamics. Success in such an approach requires our field to recognize that no laboratory can singlehandedly arrive at general theories about social behavior, and that each individual represents a system of cognitive affective processing, rather than simply an intersection of multiple person variables.

Iven Van Mechelen

Individual Differences in the Process Basis of Contextualized Behavior
Iven Van Mechelen
University of Leuven, Belgium
An intriguing challenge in contextualized personality psychology is to identify the locus and nature of the most sizeable individual differences in situation - cognitive/affective mediators - behavior chains. I will present a novel set of powerful tools that allows such an identification. The application of these tools to a broad range of behaviors will further be shown to reveal a remarkably consistent picture, with significant theoretical and applied implications.

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Walter Mischel