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A theory of states and traits: revised
Annual Review of Clinical Psychology
  • Christian Geiser, Utah State University
  • Rolf Steyer, Friedrich Schiller University
  • Axel Mayer, Ghent University
  • David A. Cole, Vanderbilt University
Document Type
Annual Reviews
Publication Date

We present a revision of latent state-trait (LST-R) theory with new definitions of states and traits. This theory applies whenever we study the consistency of behavior, its variability, and its change over time. States and traits are defined in terms of probability theory. This allows for a seamless transition from theory to statistical modeling of empirical data. LST-R theory not only gives insights into the nature of latent variables but it also takes into account four fundamental facts: Observations are fallible, they never happen in a situational vacuum, they are always made using a specific method of observations, and there is no person without a past. Although the first fact necessitates considering measurement error, the second fact requires allowances for situational fluctuations. The third fact implies that, in the first place, states and traits are method specific. Furthermore, compared to the previous version of LST theory (see, e.g., Steyer et al. 1992, 1999), our revision is based on the notion of a person-at-time-t. The new definitions in LST-R theory have far-reaching implications that not only concern the properties of states, traits, and the associated concepts of measurement errors and state residuals, but also are related to the analysis of states and traits in longitudinal observational and intervention studies.

Citation Information
Christian Geiser, Rolf Steyer, Axel Mayer and David A. Cole. "A theory of states and traits: revised" Annual Review of Clinical Psychology Vol. 11 (2015) p. 71 - 98
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