Postulates for Characteristic Adaptations

The postulate concerning characteristic adaptations states that, over thne, people adapt to then environment "by acquiring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are consistent with their personality traits and earlier adaptations" (McCrae & Costa, 2003, p. 190). In other words, traits affect the way we adapt to the changes hi our environment. Moreover, our basic tendencies result hi our seeking and selecting particular environments that match our dispositions. For instance, an extraverted person may join a dance club, whereas an assertive person may become a lawyer or business executive.

The second characteristic adaptation postulate—maladjustment—suggests that our responses are not always consistent with personal goals or cultural values. For example, when introversion is carried to extreme, it may result hi pathological social shyness, which prevents people from going out of the house or holding down a job. Also, aggression carried to an extreme may lead to belligerence and antagonism, which then result hi being frequently fired from jobs. These habits, attitudes, and competencies that make up characteristic adaptations sometimes become so rigid or compulsive that they become maladaptive.

The third characteristic adaptation postulate states that basic traits may "change over time in response to biological maturation, changes hi the environment, or deliberate interventions" (McCrae & Costa, 2003, p. 190). This is McCrae and Costa's plasticity postulate, one that recognizes that although basic tendencies may be rather stable over the lifethne, characteristic adaptations are not. For example, interventions such as psychotherapy and behavior modification may have a difficult thne changing a person's fundamental traits, but they may be potent enough to alter a person's characteristic responses.

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