Professor of Psychology
My current research interest is the study of explicit motivation, with a specific focus on taxonomic and measurement issues, and the relation between aspects of person's goals and their personality traits. While traits have proven useful for characterizing global individual differences, narrower goal units more closely capture the fabric of everyday life. From my initial studies, it seems that trait differences between persons are manifested in individuals' goals, but the taxonomic structure of traits (the five-factor model) does not provide an adequate classification system for describing explicit motives. As an alternative, I am currently identifying various domains of life activity to use as a basis for developing goal taxonomy. Within this kind of framework, the contextual specificity also characterizes the relation between traits and explicit motives; so that the relation between goal characteristics and personality traits varies across different life domains.
My general interests in personality assessment, structure, and development also coalesce in the study of personality consistency and change. I am especially interested in developing an alternative measurement foundation for assessing similarities and differences in personality that integrates psychometrics and psychophysical scaling. This line of research uses the "just noticeable difference" of classical psychophysics as a basic unit for describing differences in behavior and personality.
I am also interested in philosophy of science and research methods. General principles of scientific practice sometimes fail to adequately account for specificity introduced by instrumentation and techniques of data collection. Method variance in personality assessment is one such case that I have examined. My eventual goal is a larger understanding of the epistemic role of method in psychological research.
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