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When someone who exists in multiple cultures and/or uses multiple dialects, manners of speaking, etc., switches from one mode of language use to another situationally, they are said to be "code-switching." I am looking for a word or phrase that is analogous in terms of changing behavior situationally—in effect, putting on another persona for a different situation.

The analogy would look like this:

code-switching:language::________:behavior

Example:

Bob, a paramedic, gets really riled up when his kids are misbehaving, or when arguing with peers, but when on the job, he instantly _________ to fit the situation when he needs to keep a patient calm, becoming serene in the blink of an eye.

The word or phrase would mean roughly "changes behavior to fit the situation," but be less cumbersome.

  • Consider, 'morphs into...' – Peter Point Nov 7 '16 at 3:51
  • In the context of behavior, it seems the phenomenon is referred to as role transition, which everyone does all the time with a lesser or greater facility. For a broader treatment of the topic and its context, see here: books.google.co.in/books?id=tsuQAgAAQBAJ – Kris Nov 7 '16 at 11:05
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You could use the phrase "switch personas" to describe a person changing their behavior/demeanor to suit their circumstances (and/or achieve an aim).

Bob, a paramedic, gets really riled up when his kids are misbehaving, or when arguing with peers, but when on the job, he instantly switches personas to fit the situation when he needs to keep a patient calm, becoming serene in the blink of an eye.

A "persona," in psychology, is basically one of any number of social "masks" we wear to present ourselves to others in the way that the situation calls for. The definition from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:

persona 2a: an individual's social facade or front that especially in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects the role in life the individual is playing

An example of the phrase in use:

Bugs Bunny affords a concrete example of Butler's abstract philosophy of performativity. "Elmer's Candid Camera" reveals gender as anything but candid. The cartoon is metatheatrical, a series of vaudeville schticks, in which Bugs, the master of masculine cool, rapidly switches personas: friend, con artist, sadist, athlete, juggler, victim, pious advocate against cruelty to animals, and enraged object of Elmer's alleged homosexual advances.

Source: David Mamet and American Macho by Arthur Holmberg

The usage example is analyzing the behavior of a fictional character (Bugs Bunny), but it applies equally well to real-life behavior in people--the switching (changing) of personas to play our assigned role in a social situation.

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Bob, a paramedic, gets really riled up when his kids are misbehaving, or when arguing with peers, but when on the job, he instantly shifts to calm first responder mode [or shifts gears to fit the situation when he needs to keep a patient calm, becoming serene in the blink of an eye.]

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While not a verb, people who do this can be called a Zelig after Woody Allen’s mockumentary of the same name. Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as

Zelig: A person who is able to change their appearance, behaviour, or attitudes, so as to be comfortable in any situation. ‘he has become a veritable Zelig of high technology, burrowing into every information industry nook’

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I would use transform:

Make a marked change in the form, nature, or appearance of.

  • ‘he wanted to transform himself into a successful businessman’

Undergo a marked change.

  • ‘In that single moment Susan transformed into a professional gearing up to draw and hold the attention of thousands of viewers.’

Oxford Dictionaries


A similar word you could also use is adapt.

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In the context of Multiple Personality Disorder, the word switching is often used to describe transitioning from one "alter" to another. But, this wouldn't necessary have general application.

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