There are (at least) three distinct levels at which personality can be studied — within each individual, across individuals, and across groups of individuals. The first of these is observed by considering the ways that each of us tends to behave. Our behavorial tendencies differ over time, obviously, for lots of reasons. These tendencies fluctuate periodically as we navigate through our lives, day by day over weeks and years. None of us behave exactly the same under all conditions but these periodic fluctuations are often familiar and predictable — they are our behavioral signatures. Over time, behavioral tendencies may also change in more permanent, non-periodic ways as the circumstances of our life change and our personalities develop.
The second level of personality relates to the ways the individuals vary in comparison to one another. There are some common themes in the behavioral tendencies of humans and we call these
Data from the SAPA Project is well-suited to all three types of research, but most of what we've done (so far) has focused on the second level. Specifically, one of our primary aims is to use the SAPA methodology to develop more predictive models of personality assessment. (See Wikipedia for more information about Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment.) But, it's also possible to use data from the SAPA Project to consider the personality profiles of groups (based on age or gender, education levels, majors, occupations, socioeconomic status and more) and changes in personality across the lifespan (either cross-sectionally or as part of short-term "burst-like" longitudinal studies).
If you're interested in personality research, you might want to take a look at the data we have already made public or our recently developed assessment framework or maybe view the full range of items in our public-domain item database.
If you have ideas of your own or would like to collaborate, send me an email.
We also hope you'll help our research by encouraging others to complete the survey.