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Homepage / Personal / Personality/Situation Debate

Personality/Situation Debate

Based upon my training and experience, I have my own opinion about this topic which would fall under “Something else”. However, according to our textbook, the trait approach, “focuses exclusively on individual differences”, which gives a compare-contrast approach (Funder, 2016, pp 114) 1 . Additionally, the trait approach operates using correlational designs thus restricting results through the assumption that one wo/man is like the other. Funder also explains the person-situation debate focuses on one question: “Which is more important for determining what people do, the person or the situation?” (2016, pp 117) 1. I humbly submit that this is an insincere question and therefore a pursuit in futility.

I worked as a 9-1-1 operator for over 10 years and so I dealt in questions for a living. Some types of questions include:

  • Open. An open-ended question is non-binary and encourages conversation. Example, “Where did you purchase your scarf from?”
  • Closed. A close-ended question is binary in nature (only requiring a yes/no answer). Example, “Are you cold?”
  • Trapping. A trapping question places a rhetorical query which allows only a harmful answer. Example, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

There are many more types of questions but as you can see with the Trapping question example, the question itself suggests that the individual ever started beating the wife to begin with. A trapping question places blame or affixes a value system onto a thing and I believe the question in the person-situation debate is insincere. Much like the, “which came first the chicken or the egg?” question, it is not designed to be answered, rather, discussed.

I think every field of study must have their ‘infinity’ and this is it for those who study human behavior. Whatever the actual truth is to this question, humans are not ready to accept it. I believe humans need ideas like this to entertain themselves through the spirit of conflict in order to find actualization in their existence. Speaking of such things encourages the movement of thought but beyond its surface not much else. Consider me wrong/crazy? We laid the issue of the ‘world being flat’ to rest how long ago? One side of that argument actually won. We actually took humans, stuck them in a tube, and launched them so hard and fast that they blasted off the face of Earth. Those same humans, turned around and took a photo of Earth. The photo revealed: the Earth is not flat. Yet, ladies and gentlemen, I give you: The Flat Earth Society.

So, what’s my opinion? I’m not sure it matters because, in the words Dale Carnegie, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Cite this article as: Matthew Mansfield, "Personality/Situation Debate," in Mansfield, February 15, 2019, https://matthewmansfield.me/blog/02/15/2019/personality-situation-debate/.
References
  1. Funder, D. C. (2016). The personality puzzle (7th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.[][]
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