situationist critique

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A critique of the concept of personality, initiated by the Austrian-born US psychologist Walter Mischel (born 1930) in his book Personality and Assessment (1968), based on evidence apparently contradicting the fundamental assumption of all personality theories, namely that people display more or less consistent patterns of behaviour across situations. Mischel drew attention to the low correlations between personality test scores and behaviour in everyday situations and concluded that behaviour can be more reliably predicted from past behaviour than from personality test scores. According to the strong form of the situationist critique, behaviour is merely predictive of itself, and theories of personality are futile. See also interactionism (2).

Subjects: Psychology.

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