Consistency of personality traits and verbal behaviour in leaderless small group discussion
The research was concerned with consistency between three types of trait interaction and verbal behaviour in small student discussion groups. Hypotheses based on trait interactions of varying saliency were tested against samples of verbal behaviour.Using three successive classes of first-year Psychology students, Ss were selected on the basis of scores on the Spielberger STAI, the Wrenn Study Habits Inventory and the Eysenck Personality Inventory. Nineteen leaderless groups were formed, with two male and two female members. The discussions were scored using Bales' Interaction Process Analysis. The first study was concerned with extreme trait interactions involving two dimensions, neither of which was considered to be prominent in small group behaviour. The data, supplemented by other measures, provided strong support for the consistency hypothesis. The second study dealt with extreme trait interactions involving two dimensions, one of which was considered to be prominent in small group behaviour. The data with respect to interactions involving high extraversion provided better support for the consistency hypothesis than those involving low extraversion. The third study was concerned with trait interactions, involving extreme scores on only one dimension. Consistency was more evident in the high and low anxiety groups, than in the high and low extraversion groups. The demonstration of consistency depended on the nature of the trait interaction. Interactions involving more than one extreme trait provided strong confirmation of the consistency hypothesis on the basis of the observational record alone; weaker interactions required supplementary data; some trait interactions - notably those involving low extraversion - were associated with unpredictable behavioural correlates. The reliability of the data was checked using comparison groups, test-retest trials of the personality inventories, tests of the scoring method, and feedback from the Ss.Taken as a whole, and in the absence of replication, the links between the three types of trait interaction and verbal behaviour were shown to have consistent characteristics across all three studies.