1st Edition

Persons in Context
Building a Science of the Individual

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ISBN 9781593855673
Published October 18, 2007 by Guilford Press
340 Pages

USD $51.00

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Book Description

A major development in psychological science is increased recognition that persons and environments constitute dynamically interacting systems. This book presents advances from internationally renowned researchers in personality, social, cognitive, developmental, and cultural psychology, and other fields, who construct a science of the individual by studying individuals in context. Contributors build on seminal work by Walter Mischel (especially his citation classic, Toward a Cognitive Social Learning Reconceptualization of Personality, reprinted in the volume). A commentary from Mischel himself places the contributions in historical perspective and articulates the novel portrait of human nature that they yield.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

1. Construing Persons in Context: On Building a Science of the Individual, Daniel Cervone, Yuichi Shoda, and Geraldine Downey

II. Conceptualizing the Person

2. The Trait versus Situation Debate: A Minimalist View, Gordon H. Bower

3. The Power of Context, Jerome Kagan

4. Eastern and Western Ways of Perceiving the World, Richard E. Nisbett

5. From Persons and Situations to Preferences and Constraints, Richard A. Shweder

III. Self-Regulation: From Willpower to a System

6. Delay of Gratification in Children: Contributions to Social–Personality Psychology, Ozlem Ayduk

7. In Search of Generative Mechanisms: The Case of Value from Engagement Strength, E. Tory Higgins

8. Positive Affect, Cognitive Flexibility, and Self-Control, Alice M. Isen

9. Expectancy and the Perception of Aversive Events, Edward E. Smith

IV. Incorporating Situations into a Science of the Individual

10. Character in Context: The Relational Self and Transference, Susan M. Andersen, Jennifer S. Thorpe, and Christina S. Kooij

11. Integrating Personality Traits and Processes: Framework, Method, Analysis, Results, Niall Bolger and Rainer Romero-Canyas

12. Toward a Science of the Social Perceiver, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Sang Hee Park, and Alexander O’Connor

13. Toward a Science of the Individual: A Molecular View of Personalized Medicine, Paul S. Mischel

14. Intelligence as a Person-Situation Interaction, Robert J. Sternberg

V. Paradigm Change in Psychological Models of Human Nature (1950–2000–2050?)

15. Toward a Science of the Individual: Past, Present, Future?, Walter Mischel

16. Toward a Cognitive Social Learning Reconceptualization of Personality, Walter Mischel

17. From Homunculus to a System: Toward a Science of the Person, Yuichi Shoda

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Yuichi Shoda, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington. After studying physics at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, he studied psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and at Stanford University, and received his doctorate at Columbia University. Dr. Shoda’s research is aimed at identifying and understanding stable and distinctive within-person patterns of variation in the ever-changing stream, over time and across situations, of an individual’s cognition, affect, and behavior.

Daniel Cervone, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his doctorate at Stanford University; has held visiting faculty positions at the University of Washington and the University of Rome, La Sapienza; has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and has served as associate editor of the Journal of Research in Personality. Dr. Cervone’s main work involves the development of a conceptual model of the architecture of personality systems and of idiographic, person-centered methods that follow from that model.

Geraldine Downey, PhD, is Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives and a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. She received her BS in psychology from University College, Dublin, and her MA and PhD in developmental psychology from Cornell University. Her work focuses on the personal and interpersonal costs of rejection by significant others and social groups. Dr. Downey is also interested in identifying personal and contextual resources that can ameliorate and remediate the harm of social rejection and marginalization.


Walter Mischel's theoretical vision and discipline-changing research have established a new paradigm in psychological science. More so than any other volume, this book documents the scholarly creativity and methodological rigor with which Mischel’s work has enhanced understanding of the dynamic relations between individuals and their contexts. Presented are cutting-edge perspectives on personality as a fundamental focus for the description, explanation, and optimization of human behavior and development across life.--Richard M. Lerner, PhD, Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science and Director, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University

This volume represents the recent progress that psychological science has made in unraveling the mysteries of personality. Going beyond static, context-free generalizations about personality, the contributors aim to capture the ways in which individuals' experiences and actions vary across different social contexts. In pursuit of this goal, they use sophisticated modeling and innovative measurements of the thoughts, feelings, and desires that comprise personal experience and that underlie the way individuals manage themselves in social situations. Not so long ago, a basic science of potentially idiosyncratic individuals in the social context was a bold, even quixotic, hope for the distant future. This important volume shows that we are now making big strides toward realizing this vision.--Yaacov Trope, PhD, Department of Psychology, New York University

Brick by brick, we build a science of the individual. On rare occasions, a master mason steps in, appoints a Palladian window in the perfect spot, and the sun comes pouring in. Walter Mischel is that master mason, and his contributions are honored in this book. The evolving science of the individual is at the center of each and every chapter, whether it is on temperament, intelligence, self-regulation, biology, or culture. The contributors are old hands at their craft, and together they have produced jewel-like pieces that reflect off each other to make their ideas about personality come alive. Ideal for graduate-level courses, this book tells the story of the remarkable progress that has been made in developing a science of the person.--Mahzarin R. Banaji, PhD, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Department of Psychology, Harvard University