How does personality develop?

Dan P. McAdams, Jonathan M. Adler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Our university library lists no entries for “handbooks” on “personality development.” Either our collection is inadequate or, more likely, nobody before Dan Mroczek and Todd Little has ever succeeded in putting together a volume like this one. The editors of the current handbook may be crazy or visionary, or else things may be different today than they have been for the past 100 years, because there are good reasons to be skeptical about any efforts to bring together two fields of inquiry that have historically had little to do with each other-that is, personality psychology and the study of human development. Personality psychologists are, by training and maybe even temperament, suspicious of the idea of development, for to them it means change (i.e., instability, inconsistency), and personality is nothing if it is not at least somewhat enduring. Developmentalists, on the other hand, specialize in a certain kind of change-meaningful and orderly change over time. For them, lives are dynamic and evolving, resistant to the neat categorizations of traits and types. To make matters worse for any handbook editor, a vocal contingent of social scientists (e.g., Mischel, 1968; Shweder, 1975) has long questioned the utility of the very concept of “personality.” Does personality even exist? What is it anyway? If scientists don't know what it is and they even doubt its very existence, then how can they say that personality develops?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Personality Development
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781317778073
ISBN (Print)0805859365, 9780805859362
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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