Explaining intra-individual variability in social behavior through idiographic assessment: The case of humor

Tracy L. Caldwell, Daniel Cervone, Leah H. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Much variability in social behavior is intra-individual; people vary their actions strategically across contexts. Yet most personality assessment methods are inter-individual; they chart between-person differences in average behavioral tendencies. The present research advanced novel idiographic assessment methods to predict intra-individual variability in a behavioral domain of long-standing interest to personality psychologists: humor. Individuals participated in three assessment sessions. Personal beliefs about reasons for using humor were assessed either idiographically or with respect to a nomothetic system of humor-related reasons for action. The subjective relevance of nomothetically- and idiographically-identified reasons to everyday social situations was assessed. Subsequently, participants reported their perceived likelihood of using humor in specific social contexts. As predicted, likelihood of humor use varied substantially as a function of the relevance of situations to idiographically-identified reasons, but did not vary as a function of the relevance of situations to reasons identified nomothetically. Implications for personality and assessment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1229-1242
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Volume42
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Assessment
  • Humor
  • Idiographic
  • Intra-individual
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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