"Whole Trait Theory: How Personality Changes
Across Hours, and Symptoms Along with It"
Keynote by Will Fleeson
“Can we change who we are or are we prisoners of our personality?” This question makes most sense if personality traits are conceived of as essential, permanent, and unwavering. But, are they? How do social-cognitive models of personality fit in? How do scripts, schemas, narratives, goals, motives, and other similar construct relate to traits? Moreover, given that personality change does in fact occur, individuals may be able to have an influence on how they change. In that case, how do traits work? What are the mechanisms at play? In this talk I discuss Whole Trait Theory, which offers a detailed model of traits that, inter alia, provides an optimistic view on personality change. We present evidence suggesting that our personality is plastic to a greater extent than previously thought, and this plasticity provides us with the freedom to pursue goals that allow us to create the lives we want. On the consequences side, plasticity in personality from moment to moment leads to symptom variability from moment to moment, revealing plasticity in symptom experience on a similar scale.
William Fleeson: Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University, received a B.A. in philosophy from Wisconsin, a Ph.D. in psychology from Michigan, and postdoctoral training in human development from Germany. Research interests include the nature of personality, consistency, self-regulation, development, well-being, borderline personality disorder, and moral character. He takes a personality, social, cognitive, developmental, and philosophical approach to his work. Studies on distributions of behavior and their implications for personality won SPSP’s Theoretical Innovation Prize, and the Carol and Ed Diener Award in Personality Psychology, 2015
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