Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/151751
Title: How situation affects personality expression in word use : trait relevance and situation strength
Authors: Chen, Jiayu
Keywords: Social sciences::Psychology
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Chen, J. (2021). How situation affects personality expression in word use : trait relevance and situation strength. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. https://hdl.handle.net/10356/151751
Abstract: Existing studies have shown the associations between personality traits and word use. However, these associations often vary substantially across contexts. We proposed that situation trait relevance (i.e., opportunity for trait expression) and situation strength are two important factors affecting personality expression in word use. In particular, we hypothesized that the associations between personality and word use are stronger in more trait-relevant and weaker situations respectively. Four studies were conducted to investigate our hypotheses. We focused on extraversion, a well-studied personality trait with ample evidence showing its connection to the use of positive emotion and social process words. In Study 1, we conducted a meta-analysis (k = 37, N = 82,132) of the relationship between extraversion and its two linguistic markers. Results revealed a small correlation between extraversion and social process words (r = .06, 95% CI = [.02, .10]), and a small correlation between extraversion and positive emotion words (r = .07, 95% CI = [.04, .10]). More importantly, we found that the correlation between extraversion and positive emotion words was stronger in public than private contexts, and stronger in real-life than lab settings. Given that public contexts are likely to be more relevant to extraversion than private contexts, and real-life settings tend to be weaker than lab settings, the above results provided preliminary evidence supporting our hypotheses regarding the moderation effect of trait relevance and situation strength. In Study 2, we examined the influence of situation trait relevance using naturalistic language data from Facebook. By analyzing a sample of 27,235 users’ Facebook status updates and their social network density, we found that social network density strengthened the relationship between extraversion and social process /positive emotion words. Given that denser social networks tend to have more close friends and social interactions, they are more relevant to extraversion. Therefore, social network density can be considered an index of situation trait relevance for extraversion, and the above results supported the moderation effect of situation trait relevance. In Study 3, we conducted a within-subject lab experiment to test the effect of situation strength by using three different speaking tasks: self-introduction, hobby-telling, and storytelling. Results showed that extraverts displayed more extraverted behaviors (i.e., a composite factor reflecting sociable and positive state) in their language than introverts across the three language tasks, confirming the connection between extraversion and language use. Meanwhile, participants’ language use was more extraverted in the hobby-telling task than the self-introduction task. However, situation strength did not interact with extraversion to predict word use as well as extraverted behaviors, which could be due to the low trait-relevance of the three language tasks. To increase situation trait relevance, in Study 4, we asked participants to talk to a confederate in the three language tasks used in Study 3 so that these tasks could have more situation sociality. As expected, results showed that the association between extraversion and extraverted linguistic behaviors was stronger in self-introduction and hobby-telling than in storytelling. However, situation strength did not interact with extraversion to predict word use. The four studies above used three different methods to demonstrate how situation trait relevance and situation strength affect the relationship between personality and word use. It expands the Person x Situation interactionism theory by specifying how trait relevance and situation strength interact with personality to influence word use and unveils why the relationship between personality and word use varies across situations. It also advances the theory of personality expression in language use by integrating situation characteristics into the model. Our work makes important theoretical contributions to personality science and has important practical implications in improving personality prediction based on linguistic data.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/151751
DOI: 10.32657/10356/151751
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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