Two historical tales about personality, poorly told

Dan P McAdams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


These two books tell two very different stories about the history of personality studies. Taylor—s pessimistic account of how psychodynamic theories have lost favor in academia and medicine blames the scientific establishment for disenfranchising any perspectives that give credence to the dynamic holism of personality. By contrast, Dumont—s avuncular history of 2500 years in personality psychology suggests progress toward a more humanistic, idiographic, and socially contextualized understanding of persons. Both volumes exhibit erudition and extraordinary attention to historical details, yet both also reveal how difficult it can be to tell a credible story about a discipline when the author is peering in from the outside.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-534
Number of pages8
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • history
  • personality
  • psychodynamic theories
  • science
  • traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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