Does Intraindividual Variability of Personality States Improve Perspective Taking? An Ecological Approach Integrating Personality and Social Cognition

J Intell. 2018 Nov 27;6(4):50. doi: 10.3390/jintelligence6040050.


Research integrating cognitive abilities and personality has focused on the role of personality traits. We propose a theory on the role of intraindividual variability of personality states (hereafter state variability) on perspective taking, in particular, the ability to infer other peoples' mental states. First, we review the relevant research on personality psychology and social cognition. Second, we propose two complementary routes by which state variability relates to anchoring and adjustment in perspective taking. The first route, termed ego-dispersion, suggests that an increased state variability decreases egocentric bias, which reduces anchoring. The second route, termed perspective-pooling, suggests that an increased state variability facilitates efficient adjustment. We also discuss how our theory can be investigated empirically. The theory is rooted in an ecological interpretation of personality and social cognition, and flags new ways for integrating these fields of research.

Keywords: adjustment; anchoring; big five personality traits; egocentric bias; intraindividual variability; personality states; perspective taking; simulation; theory of mind; whole trait theory.

Publication types

  • Review