Juxtaposed Scripts, Traits, and the Dynamics of Personality


  • Funding for the research was provided by faculty research grants from the Social Sciences Division and Academic Senate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, from Wellesley College, and from NIMH Grant MH 16080. I am grateful to a number of research assistants who helped to collect the data reported here, and in particular to Kim Hogan, Linda Cutting, Danielle Skaw, Jim Callasandro, Jennifer Cole, and Annette Mears. Ideas for this article were stimulated by discussions at the 1994 meetings of the Society for Personology, and were greatly refined by comments from Bob Emmons, Dan Me Adams, Carol Franz, and Brewster Smith.

Address correspondence to Avril Thorne, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to avril@cats.ucsc.edu.


ABSTRACT Although personality is theoretically composed of multiple facets that function in lively interrelatedness, the interplay among these multiplicities has mostly been missed by research that focuses on traits as the primary unit of personality. The juxtaposition of contrary interpersonal scripts is a promising way to capture dynamic processes of personality. A case study is used to illustrate the dynamic interplay between sociotropic (extraverted) and avoidant scripts. Whereas standard trait measures do not reveal how extraversion and avoidance co-relate in everyday experience, the dynamics are revealed by study of interpersonal scripts in narratives of memorable encounters. Similarities between the present approach and recent dialectical approaches to the self-concept are discussed (Hermans & Kempen, 1993). Such approaches, particularly when articulated so as to interface with more generalized units of personality, can be highly useful for advancing understanding of personality dynamics.