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Abstract

Critical multiplism is an approach to question and method choice predicated on the only partial validity of most current social science practices In the first part of this paper, the approach is described, and note is made of many of its advantages but also of two of its limitations Critical multiplism is then applied to the person-situation debate The analysis reveals that major protagonists in the debate have often discussed different versions of what appears to be the same question, and they usually agree when they define the questions similarly The major real difference concerns predictions about the extent of cross-situational consistency in behaviors This entails at least two subquestions (1) how consistent is the same molecular behavior across situations? and (2) how crosssituationally stable are different molecular behaviors presumed to indicate the same latent trait? Data from Peake (1982) reported in Mischel and Peake (1982) are then reanalyzed For molecular behaviors within the trait of conscientiousness, the central tendency of the cross-situational correlation is between 30 and 50, while for the nine different behaviors measured as most prototypical of the latent trait of conscientiousness it is in the 30 to 40 range While these values are higher than those of Mischel and Peake (1982), comparable analyses of their friendliness data failed to replicate the results for conscientiousness, cautioning us not to overgeneralize estimates of cross-situational consistency from any of the analyses currently available