Three important goals for personality psychology are to (i) document the fundamental ways in which people differ from each other, (ii) examine how these individual differences impact everyday functioning, and (iii) explore how individual differences are related to how people make meaning out of their lives. An overarching assumption of personality research is that progress toward achieving the aforementioned goals will increase the understanding of healthy psychological functioning. Personality research has made headway toward achieving its goals. Most taxonomies of personality traits have identified five fundamental individual difference dimensions, the Big-Five traits of extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness. Research investigating how traits influence everyday behavior and how they are incorporated into meaningful life-stories has begun but is still in its nascent stages. Traits, everyday personality processes, and meaning-making have been shown to be highly relevant for many aspects of mental health. The proposed project attempts to move personality psychology toward the above stated goals as specified by the following three aims: (i) Determine the affective, be- havioral, and cognitive (ABC) components of Big-Five personality traits;(ii) Determine how the ABC components of Big-Five traits influence everyday personality functioning, and (iii) Determine how the ABC components are incorporated into one's narrative identity, the psychological construction of a coherent and meaningful life-story that potentially provides one with a sense of unity, meaning, and purpose. This project proposes four studies to achieve these aims. The first study will delineate the Big-Five traits into their respective ABC components. The second study will examine the structure of ABC components through a large-scale, web-based study. The third study will evaluate the replicability of the results obtained in the online sample with a large community sample. The result of these studies will be a reliable ABC assessment of personality. The fourth study will assess how ABC content in personality traits is manifested daily personality processes and life narratives. Participants will (i) complete the ABC assessment (developed in studies 1-3), (ii) make ratings of how they feel, act, and think multiple times per day for two weeks using cell-phone text messaging, and (iii) complete narratives assessing how they make meaning of different events in their lives. Analyses will examine how the ABC components influence everyday functioning and aspects of narrative identity. Personality traits, everyday personality functioning, and narrative identity are at the heart of several conceptions of psychological health. Each of these domains has been related to mental disorders and aspects of healthy psychological functioning (e.g., life-satisfaction and generative contribution to society). Because this project is aimed at identifying basic components of traits and integrating those components with everyday functioning and the process of making meaning out of life, this project has the potential to further the understanding of personality constructs that contribute to mental health.
Personality traits, what people do on a day-to-day basis, and how people give their lives meaning are at the heart of several conceptions of psychological health. Each of these domains has been related to mental disorders and aspects of healthy psychological functioning (e.g., life-satisfaction and generative contribution to society). Because this project is aimed at identifying basic components of traits and integrating those components with everyday functioning and the process of making meaning out of life, this project has the potential to further the understanding of personality constructs that contribute to mental health.
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