A dyadic-interactional perspective of implicit trait policies



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The dyadic-interactional perspective of personality suggests that behavior is a function of both stable personality traits and the dynamic interpersonal environment. According to this theory, interpersonal behavior generally follows the principle of complementarity where behavior tends to be complementary on a dimension of dominance-submissiveness and supplementary on a dimension of warmth-coldness. Implicit trait policies are thought to influence judgments of behavioral effectiveness and be influenced by personality traits. The current study examines the dyadic-interactional perspective using a situational judgment test (SJT) method in order to more fully understand both the relationship between personality traits and behavior but also to better understand the basic assumptions of the dyadic-interactional perspective. A 24-situation SJT was developed by the author to measure appropriate and inappropriate situations along the dimensions of dominance and warmth. Ten advanced psychology graduate students served as expert raters. Personality scales and the SJT were completed by 317 undergraduates for course credit. Interpersonal skills rated by 117 of the participants? friends served as a performance criterion for Hypothesis 5. Results support a congruence effect where the fit between response and trait warmth has a positive effect on judgments of behavioral effectiveness. Although a quadratic implicit trait policy effect was observed, results did not support a congruence effect for dominance. Interpersonal rigidity was shown to moderate the effect of both dominant and warm responses but was not shown to moderate the effect of traits. Complementarity hypotheses were not supported, likely due to range restriction of analyzed situations. Exploratory analyses revealed effects in support of interpersonal theory. Situations and responses influenced perceived behavioral effectiveness in accordance with the propositions of interpersonal theory. Situational appropriateness was identified as a moderator of the relationship between situations and responses. Situational judgment test scores were scored in accordance with interpersonal theory. Scores were not shown to observable interpersonal skills as hypothesized, correlating with only one 4-item subscale. Results extend both implicit trait policies and interpersonal theory. Implications, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.