Most of us think we behave very consistently from situation to situation. However, what most of us think is cross-situational consistency is really temporal consistency, behaving much the same in the same situation on different occasions. Therefore, for many of us, there is some variation in our behavior from situation to situation. This assignment gives you an opportunity to monitor how much your behavior changes from situation to situation.
First, list five different traits that you think are most characteristic of your personality (e.g., humorous, sensitive). Then, keep a descriptive log of your behavior in five different situations you are in over the next few days. Write a paragraph about each situation, indicating how you behaved along each of the five traits you listed above. That is, record how you behaved with regard to each trait for each situation. Next, determine whether you feel your behavior was consistent or inconsistent, and why?
Note: Try to pick situations where most of your traits have the “opportunity” to be expressed! For example, if you say you are loud, obnoxious, and deceitful, don’t choose situations where there is no chance for any of these to occur, such as studying alone in your room, because you will come to the obvious conclusion that your traits are inconsistent across situations!
Visual artifact idea: take a snapshot of your five personality traits with subheadings under each specifying the situation in which the trait was manifested. Below you will find a sample format, though you may find that traits may overlap across situations.
Trait 1: Optimistic
Situation 1: a meeting at work (offered a positive alternative perspective when most of
the other committee members were succumbed to the idea that things won’t change)
Trait 2: Humorous
Situation 2: an outing with friends (cracking a joke that broke the ice)
Trait 3: Sensitive
Situation 3: date night (avoiding talking about something aversive to preserve the mood)
Trait 4: Friendly
Situation 4: bumping into an acquaintance (asking about something in common)
Trait 5: Adventurous
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