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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews theories and research that have adopted interactional (person-by-situation) approaches to studying close relationships. Interactional thinking in social and personality psychology is discussed from historical and contemporary perspectives, emphasizing ways in which individuals and situations intersect. Three theoretical models that adopt person-by-situation frameworks applied to important interpersonal processes are reviewed: the cognitive–affective personality system (CAPS) model, interdependence theory, and attachment theory. The chapter explains how and why person-by-situation approaches have increased our understanding of individuals within relationships. Specific research programs are highlighted. This research has revealed that certain types of situations elicit unique reactions in people with specific dispositional strengths or vulnerabilities. Collectively, these research programs indicate that one can neither predict nor understand how individuals think, feel, or behave in relationships without knowing the relational context in which they are embedded. The chapter concludes by discussing some new directions in which interactional-based thinking might head.

Keywords: person-by-situation models, close relationships, cognitive–affective personality system (CAPS) model, attachment theory, dependency/risk regulation model, interdependence theory

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