Volume 1, Issue 4
4th Quarter, 2006

Strategies for Personality Transfer

William Sims Bainbridge

page 6 of 15

McCrae and Costa group attitudes, beliefs, and goals together, and then explain that they mean the list to cover values, preferences, and personal interests as well. These are the features of individual variation studied by sociologists and political scientists by means of questionnaires, and the software modules listed in Figure 1 include many well-developed and tested items of this kind. My computer-assisted 1989 textbook on survey research, and my 1992 textbook-software package on general social research methods and statistics, show how to design, assemble, and analyze questionnaires using computers. Figure 3 lists some abundant sources of questionnaire items that have been tested with large numbers of respondents, often in random samples.

Figure 3: Sources of Standard Social-Science Measures




General Social Survey

Sociological questionnaire administered periodically, with a mixture of new and continuing items


American National Election Studies

Political science questionnaire with items coordinated to American elections


Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Economics questionnaire following a panel of respondents over the years


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)

Archive of questionnaire survey data from hundreds of research projects


Association of Religion Data Archives

Free, online source of many questionnaire survey datasets related to religion


Henry A. Murray Research Archive

Part of Harvard-MIT Data Center, with a focus on individual life history


Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

Codebooks for many public opinion polls freely available


Learned behaviors, for McCrae and Costa, include habits and hobbies, from which I infer they mean to include all adaptationally-neutral learned behaviors. The implication is that these behaviors might perform a function for the individual, but are idiosyncratic or arbitrary, and different ones can be functionally equivalent. Someone who collects postage stamps might just as well collect coins or first edition books, for example.  It would be straightforward to develop a long list of hobbies, culled from online lists, and ask a person which he or she engages in, but it might be more efficient to use open-ended questions for this. Habits may be difficult to capture, because they are so varied and people may not be fully aware of their own habits. The word covers everything from common addictions like smoking, obsessive but harmless gestures like hair twirling, to unnoticed regularities in behavior such as walking home by a given route rather than others that might be equally good. A review of the undoubtedly diffuse scientific literature, followed by pilot research to develop measurement techniques, might be needed in this area.

For sociologists, interpersonal adaptations are social roles that the person has internalized, whereas for psychoanalysts they include maladaptive patterns of behavior believed to stem from subconscious conflicts such as the Oedipus complex. Post-psychoanalytic forms of depth psychology may be used to help a person identify the chief strategies, tactics, and assumptions that guide his or her interpersonal behavior, but this process is highly inefficient and does not produce the kind of numerical product we naturally think would be most useful for personality archiving. In addition, the practice of depth psychology by means of psychoanalytic interviews seems a rather subjective process, so we would prefer objective measures that infer an individual’s adaptations from regularities in his or her behavior. In the future, I can imagine, we might use specially designed video games for this purpose, presenting the person with a number of challenging situations, and recording their actions.[1] Social psychologists have developed a number of questionnaire item batteries that measure one or another strategy of interpersonal behavior, such as the Mach Scale based on the perspective of the 16th Century Italian political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli and reflecting “the use of guile, deceit, and opportunism in interpersonal relations” (Christie and Geis, 1970:1).[2]


1. Yang, Kiyoung, Tim Marsh, Minyoung Mun, and Cyrus Shahabi. 2005. “Continuous Archival and Analysis of User Data in Virtual and Immersive Game Environments,” Proceedings of CARPE ‘05, pp. 13-22. (back to top)

2. Christie, Richard, and Florence L. Geis. 1970. Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic Press. (back to top)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 next page>