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A Framework for Profile Similarity: Integrating Similarity, Normativeness, and Distinctiveness


Please address correspondence to Mike Furr, Department of Psychology, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC 27106; E-mail:


ABSTRACT Many questions in personality psychology lend themselves to the analysis of profile similarity. A profile approach to issues such as personality judgment, personality similarity, behavioral consistency, developmental stability, and person-environment fit is intuitively appealing. However, it entails conceptual and statistical challenges arising from the overlap among profile similarity and normativeness, which presents potential confounds and potential opportunities. This article describes the normativeness problem, articulating the need to evaluate profile similarity alongside normativeness and distinctiveness. It presents conceptual and psychometric foundations of a framework differentiating these elements for pairs of profiles. It derives two models from this framework, and it discusses the application of their components to a variety of research domains. Finally, it presents recommendations and implications regarding the use of these components and profile similarity more generally. This approach can reveal and manage potential confounds, and it can provide theoretical insights that might otherwise be overlooked.

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