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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Much current research on situations, instead of attending to single situation cues or abstract classes of situations, focuses on characteristics which capture the psychological meaning and interpretation of a situation. This focus allows a differential psychology of situations where any situation can be described and compared with a set of continuous dimensions (much like how persons can be described by traits). We provide an overview of extant taxonomies of situation characteristics and highlight their convergences. Several taxonomies—independently developed from different research teams with different item pools, samples, and data-analytic methods—have provided psychometrically validated measurement tools which make it possible to associate the (scales of the) taxonomies with one another. Upon examining the conceptual and empirical overlaps between those taxonomies, six replicable domains of situation characteristics can be identified: threat, stress, tasks, processing, fun, and mundane. These domains bear in content a striking resemblance to the Big Five or HEXACO dimensions of personality traits. We sketch how theory, methods, and research on situations may make further progress, especially regarding the goal of crafting an integrative and inclusive taxonomy of situation characteristics.

Keywords: situation characteristics, dimensions, domains, taxonomy

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