Cognitive Affective Units

In 1973, Mischel proposed a set of five overlapping, relatively stable person variables that interact with the situation to determine behavior. More than 30 years of research have caused Mischel and his associates to broaden their conception of these variables, which they call cognitive-affective units (Mischel, 1999, 2004; Mischel & Ayduk, 2002; Mischel & Shoda, 1995, 1998, 1999). These person variables shifted the emphasis from what a person has (i.e., global traits) to what a person does in a particular situation. What a person does includes more than actions; it includes cognitive and affective qualities such as thinking, planning, feeling, and evaluating.

Cognitive-affective units include all those psychological, social, and physiological aspects of people that cause them to interact with then environment with a relatively stable pattern of variation. These units include people s (1) encoding strategies, (2) competencies and self-regulatory strategies, (3) expectancies and beliefs, (4) goals and values, and (5) affective responses.

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