Employing an experience-sampling design, the interplay between personality states, social roles and major life goals was examined as it unfolds in the stream of people's daily lives. Multilevel analyses revealed a considerable amount of both within- and between-person variability in state expressions of personality traits justifying further examination of predictors at both levels of analyses. Roles proved as predictors of current personality states albeit effects differed significantly between individuals. Life goals accounted for between-person differences in average personality states but were not effective in predicting differences in relations between personality states and roles. Altogether, findings testify to the viability of the employed research strategy to analyse the interplay between both dispositional and fluctuating influences on individuals' trait expressions in behaviour. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.