Applying the Cognitive Affective Processing Systems

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Rejection Sensitivity CAPS 2017, Although the account above is fictional dilemmas like Tanya s are not uncom. mon We see our friends parents spouses bosses even ourselves switch. from nice to mean calm to neurotic reasonable to impossible with regular. frequency And yet we know at least in an intuitive way that there is. meaning coherence and stability to ourselves and other people. What is the underlying system that generates variability in our behavior. and at the same time provides organization and coherence to it In response. to this much debated question Mischel and Shoda 1995 proposed their. Cognitive Affective Processing Systems CAPS Theory bringing together. principles of knowledge activation e g Higgins 1996 and connectionism. e g McClelland Rumelhart 1985 with decades of research on social. cognitive processes e g Kunda 1990 CAPS theory is a meta theory. about how a personality system functions and therefore does not provide a. set of specific predictions about particular content areas As such there have. been few systematic applications of the theory to elucidating the dynamics. of specific personality dispositions Morf 2006 Rhodewalt Morf 2005. To begin to bridge this gap between CAPS theory and its application to. content areas our goal here is to describe research on rejection sensitivity. RS Downey Feldman 1996 as an illustration of how a personality. disposition can be studied within the CAPS framework In so doing we. also hope to provide a rich understanding of the personality dynamics that. can help explain the seemingly inconsistent behavior that people show. in their romantic relationships such as with Ian above. CAPS Approach to Personality, Because the CAPS model has been extensively described before we will only. provide a brief summary here emphasizing those aspects of the model that. we will address in the context of research on RS Readers should consult. Mischel and Shoda 1995 1998 2008 and Shoda and Mischel 1996 2000. for more thorough discussions and reviews of the CAPS model. Stable if then profiles and the influence of psychological features of situations. The central assumption that drives the CAPS model of personality is the. recognition that intra individual variability in behavior across situations can. be stable There is by now wide empirical support for the stability of people s. if then profiles e g if there is an anniversary then Ian showers Tanya with. flowers but if she asserts independence then he becomes manipulative e g. Borkenau Riemann Spinath Angleitner 2006 English Chen 2007. Fleeson 2001 Fournier Moskowitz Zuroff 2008 Mendoza Denton. Mischel 2007 Shoda Mischel Wright 1993 1994 Vansteelandt Van. Mechelen 2006 In its conceptualization of situations the model emphasizes. the role of situations as they are defined in terms of the person specific psy. chological representations they elicit i e psychological features rather than. 2008 The Authors Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2 5 2008 2016 2033 10 1111 j 1751 9004 2008 00143 x. Journal Compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd,2018 Rejection Sensitivity CAPS. in terms of their objective visible characteristics as settings i e nominal. situations, Activation networks of cognitive affective mediating units. The relationship between psychological features of situations and behavior. is assumed to be mediated by five types of person variables Mischel 1973. or cognitive affective units CAUs 1 encodings and construals 2 expecta. tions and beliefs 3 feelings and emotions affects 4 goals and values and. 5 competencies and self regulatory abilities While the mediating units are. organized within a stable activation network that reflects the social and bio. logical history of the individual Mischel Shoda 1995 individuals differ. in the 1 availability and accessibility of CAUs and 2 the organization of. the inter relations between CAUs and their activation pathways and 3 the. psychological features that are salient to the personality system. CAPS is thought to function as a connectionist system e g Read Miller. 1998 Within this system psychological features of situations first activate. a particular CAU This initial activation then spreads to other CAUs through. the stable activation links excitatory or inhibitory that characterize the system. Figure 1 It is the network of CAUs that then determines the behavioral. responses that are generated in response to the incoming stimuli The. behavioral responses to situations in turn impact the environment of the. individual in a feedback loop making the individual an active participant in. the construction of his or her social world Shoda Lee Tiernan Mischel. 2002 Zayas Shoda Ayduk 2002,Stability and variability in the system.
Overall the CAPS model explains intra individual variability in behavior by. proposing that different psychological features of situations activate different. CAUs that may be associated with different behavioral responses At the same. time the model addresses stability in personality by redefining dispositions. as consistent patterns of organization and activation pathways that are reliably. activated in response to particular situational features What is stable and. consistent then is the if then profile the fact that the person s behavior. reliably changes from A to B when the psychological situation changes from. Conceptualizing personality types and dispositions. At the level of inter individual similarities between people the model claims. that the prototypic exemplars of a personality type share their processing. dynamics that is they show the same patterns and sequences of activation. among mediating units that are generated when these individuals encounter. or construct situations with relevant features Mischel Shoda 1995 p 257. 2008 The Authors Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2 5 2008 2016 2033 10 1111 j 1751 9004 2008 00143 x. Journal Compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd,Rejection Sensitivity CAPS 2019. Figure 1 A schematic illustration of the CAPS, Notes Circles within it represent the CAUs with darker circles representing more accessible. thoughts or affects The CAUs are inter connected either through excitatory solid lines or. inhibitory broken lines the darkness of a line indicates the strength of the association. between any two CAUs The multiple influences of biology genes culture and idiographic. learning history on the CAPS network are illustrated at the bottom Note that the behaviors. that are generated influence one s subsequent experience and the social learning history. through a feedback loop influencing the system s further development and modifying the. situations encountered and generated over time, Source Adapted from Mischel and Ayduk 2004 with authors permission. Subsequently these processing dynamics lead to similarities in the distinctive. patterning of behavior across situations within personality types Both the. oretically and empirically a system like CAPS also generates mean level. differences in behavior between personality types because types differ in the. chronic accessibility of CAUs For example a personality type for whom. encodings of hostile intent are chronically accessible and readily get activated. by a wide range of stimuli is likely to be higher in retaliatory behavior across. the board than a type for whom such encodings are relatively less accessible. RS A Cognitive affective Processing Disposition, Although most people experience rejection one way or another in their. lifetime not everybody responds to rejection with the same kind of intensity. and negativity Such variability in people s reactions to rejection has been. harnessed by Downey and colleagues to provide insights into the psychological. 2008 The Authors Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2 5 2008 2016 2033 10 1111 j 1751 9004 2008 00143 x. Journal Compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd,2020 Rejection Sensitivity CAPS.
processes that characterize the cognitive affective dynamic known as RS. Downey Feldman 1996, The RS model has its theoretical roots in attachment and attributional. theories Bowlby 1969 1973 1980 Horney 1937 that emphasize the. formative role early interpersonal relationships play in the development of. acceptance rejection schemas and people s functioning in later relationships. Specifically RS is thought to develop out of early experiences of rejection. neglect or abuse Feldman and Downey 1994 showed that RS was positively. related to retrospective reports of parent to child and parent to parent physical. and verbal abuse Downey Khouri and Feldman 1997 further showed that. parents reports of harsh parenting techniques predicted an increase in their. children s RS over a 1 year period These early experiences are then carried. from one relationship to another affecting cognition affect and behavior in. subsequent relationships, However rather than describing a global orientation to relationships. the RS model emphasizes the social cognitive processes through which. experiences with caregivers come to affect individuals relationship behavior. later in life The RS processing dynamic encompasses a stable activation. network linking fears and expectations of rejection perceptions attributions. of rejection and affective behavioral overreactions to perceived rejection. see Figure 2 As such the model explicitly adopts the CAPS approach in. Figure 2 A schematic illustration of cognitive affective processing dynamics that characterize. people high in rejection sensitivity, Source Adapted from Mischel and Ayduk 2004 with authors permission. 2008 The Authors Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2 5 2008 2016 2033 10 1111 j 1751 9004 2008 00143 x. Journal Compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd,Rejection Sensitivity CAPS 2021. its conceptualization defining RS as a cognitive affective processing dynamic. whereby individuals anxiously expect readily perceive and overreact emo. tionally and behaviorally to rejection Downey Feldman 1996 Feldman. Downey 1994 In what follows we outline a program of research that has. documented the various links of this processing dynamic highlighting the ways. in which these data illustrate the working of a CAPS like personality system. Situation sensitive measurement of RS Contextualizing personality. Because the RS model conceptualizes anxious expectations of rejection as. entry points to the RS processing dynamics RS has been operationalized. in terms of this component Consistent with the idea that dispositions need. to be measured in their diagnostic situations the Rejection Sensitivity Ques. tionnaire Downey Feldman 1996 presents people with 18 hypothetical. situations that can potentially result in rejection These situations had been. identified as relevant to young adults rejection concerns in focus group. discussions Downey Feldman 1996 and involve interaction scenarios with. parents romantic partners and peers e g You ask your parents for extra. money to cover living expenses You ask someone you don t know well on. a date You ask someone in class if you can borrow their notes For each. situation individuals indicate the extent to which they would be concerned. and anxious about the possibility of rejection i e anticipatory anxiety and. fear and their subjective likelihood estimates of rejection as a possible out. come i e expectations of rejection, RS in each situation is calculated by multiplying the degree of anticipatory.
anxiety with the level of expectation of rejection The adoption of an. expectancy value model Bandura 1986 captures the notion that individuals. who are high in RS do not merely expect rejection as e g telephone. solicitors do but also feel threatened by the possibility of rejection which. telephone solicitors do not Individuals low in RS in contrast have a. tendency to expect acceptance and to be less concerned about the possibility. of rejection As psychometric studies have indicated a stable one factor. structure an overall RS score is calculated as the average anxious expectation. ratings across the 18 situations see Downey Feldman 1996 for details of. psychometric properties Although RS is correlated with a number of. conceptually similar measures several studies indicate that it is not redundant. in its predictive utility with trait neuroticism self esteem general attachment. style social anxiety and social avoidance Ayduk Downey Kim 2001. Ayduk et al 2008b Downey Feldman 1996 Downey Mougios Ayduk. London Shoda 2004, Rejection as the psychological feature eliciting anxious expectations of rejection. In addition to adopting a contextualized measurement approach the RS. model also hypothesizes that the processing dynamics of high RS are activated. 2008 The Authors Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2 5 2008 2016 2033 10 1111 j 1751 9004 2008 00143 x. Journal Compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd,2022 Rejection Sensitivity CAPS. in situations that are particularly relevant to rejection Downey et al 2004. showed this in a study using the human startle probe paradigm The startle. probe paradigm is a well established measure of the activation of physio. logically based defensive motivational system Lang Bradley Cuthbert. 1990 Briefly in this paradigm participants are presented with loud bursts. of noise while viewing pictorial stimuli of different valence and arousal levels. The Cognitive Affective Processing Systems or CAPS theory Mischel amp Shoda as a programmatic attempt to illustrate how personality dispositions can be studied

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