An individual-differences approach to social competence is presented. People generated a large number of operational indicators of social competence. The dimensions that underlie those indicators were then determined. Seven interpretable dimensions of social competence were identified, each with a distinct pattern of correlations with personality and cognitive ability variables. Major personality dimensions are closely related to social competence, whereas cognitive ability (as operationalized by academic performance indicators) is less related to social competence. A profile approach to social competence is proposed because (a) social competence is a compound trait, all of whose dimensions do not covary, and (b) some social competence dimensions may be curvilinear such that, after an ideal point has been reached, higher standing on the dimension may hinder rather than enhance socially competent performance.
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