Situationism (psychology)

Situationism in psychology refers to an approach to personality that holds that people are more influenced by external, situational factors than by internal traits or motivations.

It therefore challenges the position of trait theorists, such as Hans Eysenck or Raymond B. Cattell. The term is popularly associated with Walter Mischel, although he himself does not appear to like the term. Empirical evidence upon which situationists base their claims take the form of cross-situational measures of traits such as extraversion, in which only low correlations of the same trait taken in different situations have been found. However, in response to such evidence, Hans Eysenck has pointed out that the correlations, while low, are typically still high enough to reach statistical significance. A midrange position, which holds that personality is best understood as resulting from subtle interplay of internal and external factors, is known as "interactionism".

Some notable situationist studies include: Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment, Bystander experiments, Obedience experiments like Milgram experiment and Heat and Aggression experiments.

References

*Krahe, B. (1993) "Personality and Social Psychology: Towards a Synthesis." London: Sage.


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