William Revelle Professor

Program Area(s):

Personality and Health; Clinical


Personality measurement, theory and research

Research Interests

The study of personality is the last refuge of the generalist in psychology. As such, my interests in personality theory include the biological basis of personality and motivation, psychometric theory, the structure of daily mood and models of attention and memory.

Recent work in the Personality, Motivation, and Cognition Laboratory has focused on the interactive effects of personality (e.g., impulsivity, trait anxiety) and situational determinants of motivation (e.g., time-of-day, caffeine, films, monetary incentives, exercise) as they combine to influence motivational states (energetic and tense arousal), and how these motivational states in turn affect cognitive processes (sustained attention, working-memory capacity, long-term memory) to determine cognitive performance. The long term goal is to develop a better understanding of how individual differences interact with situational moderators to affect efficient information processing.

Additional work in personality theory has focused on the personality characteristics associated with differential sensitivities to cues for reward and punishment. Current work is being done on the personality and situational determinants of affective state and dimensional analyses of affect.

I am also working on the Personality Project, an attempt to bring information about current personality theory and research to the readers of the World Wide Web. Suggestions for additions to this project are very welcome.

Recently, I have become interested in using the statistical analysis package, R, as a powerful descriptive and analytical tool. As have many others faced with the problem of learning R, I have developed a short tutorial to help others. A shorter form of this tutorial is devoted to basic statistical procedures for doing personality research. I have started to convert many of my older programs into R. So far, the most useful conversion is the Very Simple Structure program for determining the optimal number of factors.

Selected Publications

Revelle, W., Wilt, J., Rosenthal, A. (in press) Individual differences in cognition: New methods for examining the personality-cognition link. To appear in Aleksandra Gruszka, Gerald Matthews, and Blazej Szymura (editors): Handbook of Individual Differences in Cognition: Attention, Memory and Executive Control.

Revelle, W. and Scherer, K.R. (in press) Personality and emotion. To appear in the Oxford Companion to the Affective Sciences, Oxford University Press. 

Revelle, W. and Zinbarg, R.E. (2009) Coefficients alpha, beta, omega and the glb: comments on Sijtsma. Psychometrika. 74, 1, 145-154

Wilt, J. and Revelle, W. (2009) Extraversion. In Mark Leary and Rick Hoyle (Editors) Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior. Guilford. p 27-45.

Revelle, W. (2009) Personality structure and measurement: the contributions of Raymond Cattell, British Journal of Psychology, 100, 253-257.