Using the time-varying autoregressive model to study dynamic changes in situation perceptions and emotional reactions

J Pers. 2019 Nov 30. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12528.


Assuming personality to be a system of intra-individual processes emerging over time in interaction with the environment, we propose an idiographic approach to investigate potential changes of intra-individual dynamics in the perception of situations and emotions of individuals varying in personality traits. We compared the semiparametric time-varying autoregressive model (TV-AR) that takes into account the non-stationarity of psychological processes at the individual level, with the standard AR model.


We conducted analyses of individual time series to assess intra-individual changes in mean levels and inertia on data from two adolescents who completed measures of personality and indicated their situation perceptions and emotions five times a day for 19 days.


For the less honest, emotional, extraverted, and more agreeable adolescent, the TV-AR model detected reliable changes in the intra-individual dynamics of situation perceptions and emotions whereas, for the other individual, the standard AR model was more preferred, given the lack of changes in the intra-individual dynamics.


Psychological processes dynamics in situation perception and emotions may vary from person to person depending on their personality. This work constitutes a first step in demonstrating that an idiographic approach has advantages in identifying changes in individuals’ perceptions and reactions to situations.