How to Change Conscientiousness: The Sociogenomic Trait Intervention Model

ArticleinPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment 8(3):199-205 · July 2017with 1,805 Reads
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Abstract
Conscientiousness, the propensity to be organized, responsible, self-controlled, industrious, and rule-following, is related to numerous important outcomes including many forms of psychopathology. Given the increasing awareness of the importance of conscientiousness, it is becoming common to want to understand how to foster it. In this paper we first describe and update a recent model that was put forward as a theoretically informed intervention to change conscientiousness. We then consider recent life span theories focused on conscientiousness that might inform how best to use existing interventions as well as identify potential moderators of the effectiveness of intervention. Finally, we integrate these perspectives into a framework for how to foster conscientiousness that we label the Sociogenomic Trait Intervention Model (STIM).

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    In a response to comments by P. T. Costa, Jr., and R. R. McCrae on the current authors' original article, the authors show that Costa and McCrae's writings on personality suggest a belief in immutability of personality traits. The authors agree with Costa and McCrae that new personality trait models that provide an accurate lower order structure of personality traits are needed and explain why the Revised NEO Personality Inventory is not the correct model for that purpose. The authors provide direct evidence refuting the hypothesis that personality traits change only because of biologically based intrinsic maturation. The authors present arguments supporting the contention that meta-analyses should be preferred to single longitudinal studies when drawing inferences about general patterns of personality development. Finally, the authors point out why the differences between their position and Costa and McCrae's are important.
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    Antisocial behavior, substance use, and impulsive and aggressive personality traits often co-occur, forming a coherent spectrum of personality and psychopathology. In the current research, the authors developed a novel quantitative model of this spectrum. Over 3 waves of iterative data collection, 1,787 adult participants selected to represent a range across the externalizing spectrum provided extensive data about specific externalizing behaviors. Statistical methods such as item response theory and semiparametric factor analysis were used to model these data. The model and assessment instrument that emerged from the research shows how externalizing phenomena are organized hierarchically and cover a wide range of individual differences. The authors discuss the utility of this model for framing research on the correlates and the etiology of externalizing phenomena.
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