How Should Multifaceted Personality Constructs Be Tested? Issues Illustrated by Self-Monitoring, Attributional Style, and Hardiness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

232 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two or more dimensions unintentionally varied simultaneously are said to be confounded, but several theories in personality intentionally combine 3 or more distinct qualities. Researchers using these theories sum the qualities before testing predictions. How wise is this practice? The practice appears to derive from 2 distinct lines of reasoning. One of them assumes that the component dimensions converge on a single underlying quality (latent variable) that each reflects imperfectly. The other assumes a synergy among dimensions. Issues arising from each line of reasoning are illustrated by examining self-monitoring, attributional style, and hardiness. Conclusions are that (a) information is lost whenever a latent variable theory is tested solely by a composite and (b) a synergistic theory can be tested only through a statistical interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-585
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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