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Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Tests of the Personality and Role Identity Structural Model (PRISM)


  • This research was supported by a grant from the Research Board of the University of Illinois, and grants R03 AG19414 and R01 AG21178 from the National Institute of Aging.

should be sent to: Dustin Wood, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820. E-mail:


ABSTRACT A conceptual hierarchy termed the Personality and Role Identity Structural Model, or PRISM, is offered as a framework for incorporating situational information into trait models. PRISM assumes that personality is structured hierarchically with general dispositions subsuming context-specific dispositions (role identities), which, in turn, subsume role-based thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. At Wave 1 (N=149), we found that general traits account for commonalities across traits measured within role identities and that role identities mediate the relationship between general traits and role criteria. In a longitudinal follow-up of a subsample of the original participants (Wave 2; N=62), we found that general traits and role-identity traits were more stable than role experiences over time. Also, changes in role experiences were related to changes in role-identity traits, and, in turn, changes in role-identity traits were related to changes in general traits. The potential of PRISM for use in understanding the development of personality traits is discussed.