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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine the relation between personality variables and the way an individual cognitively represents and interprets various interaction situations. A sample of typical and recurring interaction episodes within a student milieu was first elicited using a free response diary method. In the main study, subjects from the same subcultural milieu were asked to (a) complete a battery of personality assessment measures, including measures of social anxiety and social competence, and (b) indicate their perception of the interaction episodes of the group. Their judgements of the episodes were analyzed using Carroll and Chang's (1970) Individual Differences Multidimensional Scaling (INDSCAL) procedure, indicating that four characteristics, subjective self-confidence, evaluation, seriousness, and involvement defined subjects' implicit view of the episode space. A canonical correlation analysis between the personality measures and each subject's episode cognition weights indicated a significant relation between these two groups of variables. The link between social skills and episode cognition style was further explored by a multiple discriminant analysis of the episode cognition weights of subjects who scored in the top and the bottom third of the sample on a composite social skills measure. The results are interpreted as providing significant support for recent cognitive theories of personality, and the link between episode cognition and personality variables is considered. The role of episode cognition in social skills assessment and therapy is also discussed, with a view toward exploring the relevance of the findings for applied areas.