Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2021

Faculty Advisor(s)

David Pincus


Personality structure of an individual can fall on a spectrum from rigid to flexible. Rigid people tend to be very simple in personality structure, and only have a few defining traits that encompass who they are. Flexible people have a range of personality traits and are versatile in many different scenarios. Furthermore, it is possible that the intensity of identification with personality traits may be related to response times to the individual questions on the personality test. Expanding on the results of Pincus et al 2019 and McDaniel 2020, the current study tests the hypothesis that personality rigidity is adaptive in a low stress environment. However, when stress is higher, a more flexible personality structure may be more adaptive. Personality rigidity will be measured using the shape of inverse power law distributions of response times to items on the M5-50 (Big 5 Personality) for each participant. The correlations between this measure of rigidity and psychopathology will be compared to a sample of pre pandemic and post pandemic college students. Existing data will be used to compare a sample of college students at different times: one during the semester previous to the Coronavirus pandemic and one during the pandemic. The pre and during pandemic samples will act as pre-stress and stress conditions. The significance of this study is to see if stress has a defining impact on those with simpler personality structures, and in turn if those personality structures combined with stress can lead to psychopathology.


Presented at the virtual Spring 2021 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.

This scholarship is part of the Chapman University COVID-19 Archives.