Equilibria in Personality States: A Conceptual Primer for Dynamics in Personality States

Alexander F. Danvers, Richard Wundrack, Matthias Mehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We provide a basic, step-by-step introduction to the core concepts and mathematical fundamentals of dynamic systems modelling through applying the Change as Outcome model, a simple dynamical systems model, to personality state data. This model characterizes changes in personality states with respect to equilibrium points, estimating attractors and their strength in time series data. Using data from the Personality and Interpersonal Roles study, we find that mean state is highly correlated with attractor position but weakly correlated with attractor strength, suggesting strength provides added information not captured by summaries of the distribution. We then discuss how taking a dynamic systems approach to personality states also entails a theoretical shift. Instead of emphasizing partitioning trait and state variance, dynamic systems analyses of personality states emphasize characterizing patterns generated by mutual, ongoing interactions. Change as Outcome modelling also allows for estimating nuanced effects of personality development after significant life changes, separating effects on characteristic states after the significant change and how strongly she or he is drawn towards those states (an aspect of resiliency). Estimating this model demonstrates core dynamics principles and provides quantitative grounding for measures of ‘repulsive’ personality states and ‘ambivert’ personality structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1016
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Personality Dynamics
  • development of personality
  • dynamic systems
  • equilibrium
  • personality states

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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