8 The Cognitive-Affective Processing System

Personality and Social Psychology


  1. Lara K. Kammrath PhD1,
  2. Abigail A. Scholer PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop205008

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Kammrath, L. K. and Scholer, A. A. 2012. The Cognitive-Affective Processing System. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 5:I:8.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Wake Forest University, Department of Psychology, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

  2. 2

    University of Waterloo, Department of Psychology, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Mischel and Shoda's Cognitive Affective Personality System (CAPS) theory revolutionized thinking about personality. We review the functional utility of the CAPS perspective in light of the purposes for which people typically use and seek personality information—prediction, explanation, and influence. We suggest that the critical if…then… situation-behavior profiles that characterize personality within CAPS theory may be further advanced by integration with current functionalistic approaches to personality. Using Scholer and Higgins tri-level theory of self-regulation as a model, we illustrate the power of the proposed approach using attachment theory mind-set theory and regulatory focus theory. We conclude by discussing the theoretical and practical implications for CAPS of different kinds of if…then shifts (e.g., tactical versus strategic shifts) within a goal hierarchy.


  • CAPS;
  • Cognitive Affective Personality System;
  • personality;
  • if-then profiles;
  • social-cognitive;
  • functionalist