The Person-Situation Debate

Paper instructions:
This thread actually requires some contemplation of the material on personality and social psychology together but it is a favorite question of mine: After reviewing the material on

personality and social influences on behavior, do you think what we call “personality” is actually mainly a function of the person, mainly driven by situational factors, or some combination of

both? Please refer to what you’ve learned in this course…offer an educated opinion. Mischel would say “situation” and trait theorists would say “person.” So what would you say?

IMPORTANT: Please do not confuse the situation (the context of the moment) with the idea of environment influencing development of behavior/personality. This discussion question concerns

the former. Is it your situation of the moment – your role, status and the number of people around you – that influences your behavior, or your personality (if it exists) or some combination of


Some of the best evidence for the power of the situation is the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, where all the participants completely transformed themselves into guard and prisoners,

and were none the worse for it when the experiment was through.