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Cognitive-Affective Processing System: The Personality Paradox

Free essayPresumably, the Cognitive Affective Processing System (CAPS) theory presents an increasing interest from the perspectives of psychologists due to the reason that it sheds light on the behavioral peculiarities of a person. The interaction between the environmental situation and personality characteristics in determining the behavior leads to the appearance of the personality paradox. It encapsulates the crucial role of the environment as related to the role of personality in emerging situations. Although personality features exert a considerable impact on behavioral peculiarities and decision-making processes, there are cases when the primary position is taken by the environmental situation that is accountable for the rise of the personality paradox.

Cognitive Affective Processing System

Cognitive Affective Personality System consists in the nature of human responses and the main factors that affect behavioral patterns. It is worth noticing that defining these particular factors and their role in behavioral reactions presents a controversial issue. It is due to the mixture of driving forces that result in ambiguity and uncertainness of determining the factor that takes the dominant position. CAPS encompasses cognitive and affective influences that are reflected in the behavior of the underlying person. However, the psychologists also raise a question concerning the existence of stable behavioral patterns regarding the responses to the emerging situations.

In addition, Shoda et al (2002) focuses on the reconceptualization that defines a personality as a dynamic system. It presupposes the assumptions that personality’s individual characteristics are also responsible for the changing nature of reactions and behaviors. However, there are different conflicting views within the studies that shed light on the environmental influences and their predominant roles in behavioral responses. They become the trigger for acknowledging the appearance of the personality paradox.

The Personality Paradox

The personality paradox within the context of Cognitive-Affective processing system demonstrates the variability of behavior in certain situations that mainly has environmental background. Interestingly, the reactions and behaviors in particular situations are not mechanical: they should be interpreted from the perspective of experience and personality balance:

The concept of the situation, however, is not like the simple stimulus in early behaviourism that mechanically pulls responses from an organism’s repertoire. Features of situations activate a set of internal reactions – not just cognitive but also affective – based on the individual’s prior experience with those features. (Mischel & Shoda, 1995, p. 251)

Thus, it is necessary to point out that the main causes of the personality paradox encompass cognitive and affective leading factors that have their own reflection in the person’s mind.

Specific behavioral responses to the situations are closely tied up with the underlying meaning that the perceiver attaches to the situational context. Explicitly, a person who is under the influence of the situation is marked with a specific reaction if it stimulates the processing of previous reactions. Therefore, it is worth noticing that these reactions manifest themselves due to the encoded information in a person’s mind. Bearing in mind the previous points, cross-situational consistency varies according to the person’s relation to the particular situation. This assumption brings into focus the changing nature of reactions and provides explanation why the responses differ across a number of people with different experiences. Apparently, a person’s mediating processes affect behavioral peculiarities.

To explain the personality paradox, it is important to address the issues that occur within CAPS. Applying the personality paradox to the sport behaviors, Smith (2008) states, “Even on a trait as central as honesty, people can show considerable behavioral variability across situations” (p. 254). CAPS theory manifests itself in dispositional and situational factors as the miscellany that affects behavioral peculiarities. These factors within CAPS relate to the personality paradox.

The Performer’s Personality Interaction with the Environment

In addition to the above-mentioned aspects, it is worth paying attention to Mischel and Shoda’s (1995) model that is marked with the speculations on personality and cognitive-affective units that allow the personality to establish the connection with the environment that generates output behaviors. The reactions and behavioral responses in the context of CAPS should be viewed through the prism of individual personality peculiarities called cognitive-affective units. Cognitive-affective units become activated when they are influenced by a particular situation. Their interaction mainly results in the behavioral response and manifests itself in a number of individual features.

The performer’s personality interaction with the environment ought to be considered through the model of CAPS. Any personality can be marked with certain features that shape the behavior after the rapid cognitive analysis of the situation or the response to the meaning of the stimulus. Among the individual peculiarities, it is necessary to consider encoding and personal constructs of behavior, beliefs and expectancies, affects, goals and values, skills, and self-regulatory competencies (Msichel & Shoda, 1995). The above-mentioned scholars determine these features as crucial in behavioral outputs. Thus, the behavior depends on social, psychological, and cognitive individual peculiarities that are stimulated by the meaning that is recapped from a particular situation.

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The performer’s personality interaction with the environment may result in different behaviors according to the situation, in which the performer is employed. There have been numerous researches that prove this assumption by experimenting on people’s behaviors and individualities. It is reasonable to take into account modern examples that relate to CAPS and demonstrate its accuracy. Specifically, Smith (2008) applied this particular model in order to define behavioral phenomena peculiar to sportsmen. The researcher based his study analyzing the responses to the situations that coaches create by means of their behavioral peculiarities. Apart from this aspect, Smith’s (2008) article has shown that stable behavioral patterns exist if one condition is carried out. The topicality of his study resulted in modern understanding of CAPS model and confirmed Mischel’s (2004) integrative science of personality:

The so-called personality paradox is resolved in the findings that stability does indeed exist, but at the level of if…then behavioral signatures. In sports, behavioral signatures have been clearly demonstrated among coaches whose situation-behavior profiles differ in a stable fashion. (Smith, 2008, p. 270).

Therefore, the practical implementations resulted in theoretical framework of CAPS. Every day examples show that CAPS theory works, and it should be applied to envisage particular behavioral responses. The personality paradox has a vivid reflection of ordinary people’s behaviors, thus manifesting itself in the performer’s interaction with the environment. Irreversibly, CAPS model works for psychologists determining the causes of positive or negative behavioral outputs.

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The controversy regarding the place of the personality paradox in Cognitive Affective Processing System reveals itself in the ambiguity of the causes for certain behavioral responses. In particular, the personality paradox concerns the assumption that personality is not the only trigger for the development of special behaviors. One should bear in mind that apart from the individual features, psychologists draw attention to the situational contexts. Specific situations get their reflection in the personalities and form the responses in accordance with person’s individual peculiarities. The essay suggests the accuracy of Mischel’s hypothesis about the miscellany of the dispositional and situational factors influencing the behavior and sheds light on the performer’s personality interaction with the environment. The considerations of the environmental influence on behavior are considerably significant due to the reason that along with individual peculiarities, they can trace the causes of the behavior from a psychological perspective. Seemingly, CAPS theory pertains to the most valuable researches in psychology as it shows the links between personality, environment, and underlying behavior.