Personality psychology

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Personality psychology is the scientific study of the whole person. In their attempts to provide accounts of human individuality, personality psychologists have traditionally developed theories and conducted research on aspects of human nature, individual differences among persons, and intensive examinations of the single case. Personality psychology emerged as a social-scientific discipline in the 1930s with the publication of the field's first authoritative text by Gordon Allport. The field has been marked by the production of many grand-scale theories, such as those proposed by Freud, Jung, Adler, Allport, Murray, Eysenck, Rogers, and Kelly. Since World War II, personality research has focused a great deal of attention on the measurement of individual-difference constructs, culminating in recent years with the emergence of the five-factor model (Big Five) as a comprehensive taxonomy of broad dispositional traits. Individual differences in many personality traits show considerable longitudinal consistency and appear to be at least moderately heritable. In addition to broad personality traits, recent research in personality has focused on characteristic adaptations, which are contextualized variables that typically specify motivational and developmental concerns, and on integrative life narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences
EditorsNeil J  Smelser, Paul B Baltes 
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-08430768
StatePublished - 2001


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