In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Personality Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Other Approaches
  • Textbooks
  • Reference Resources
  • Training Programs
  • Journals Devoted to Personality and Related Fields
  • Journals Devoted to Assessment Research
  • The Person-Situation Debate
  • Five Factor Model (“Big Five”) of Personality
  • The Big Three
  • Hierarchical Models
  • Stability and Change
  • Biological Basis

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Psychology Personality Psychology
Robert D. Latzman, Yuri Shishido
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 October 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 October 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0109


The title of “Godfather of Personality” may well be ascribed to Gordon Allport, who was the first to make public efforts to promote the “field of personality” in the 1930s (see Allport and Vernon 1930, cited under Gordon Allport). Personality psychology—located within what many argue is the broadest, most encompassing branch of psychological science—can be defined as the study of the dynamic organization, within the individual, of psychological systems that create the person’s characteristic patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings (see Allport 1961, also cited under Gordon Allport). The field of personality psychology is concerned with both individual differences—that is, the way in which people differ from one another—and intrapersonal functioning, the set of processes taking place within any individual person. The area of personality psychology is often grouped with social psychology in research programs at universities; however, these are quite different approaches to understanding individuals. While social psychology attempts to understand the individual in interpersonal or group contexts (i.e., “when placed in Situation A, how do people, in general, respond?”), personality psychology investigates individual differences (i.e., “how are people similar and different in how they respond to the same situation?”). Personality psychology has a long history and, as such, is an extremely large and broad field that includes a large number of approaches. Discerning readers will quickly note that the current chapter is largely focused on what has come to be the most commonly studied perspective, the trait approach. Those readers interested in other approaches are referred to a number of resources focusing on Other Approaches within the diverse field.

Other Approaches

As noted in the Introduction, the field of personality psychology is extremely broad and diverse, with the current chapter largely focused on the trait approach. Those readers interested in humanistic approaches are directed toward Rogers 1961 or Maslow 1999. Dweck and Leggett 1988 is a review of the social-cognitive approach to personality that may also be of interest to many readers. McAdams 2001 is an excellent reference for those interested in the narrative study of personality. Please note that these are only a few examples of the various approaches within the diverse field of personality psychology.

  • Dweck, C. S., and E. L. Leggett. 1988. A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review 95.2: 256–273.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.95.2.256

    The authors present a model to account for major patterns of adaptive and maladaptive behavior focusing on underlying social-cognitive psychological processes. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Maslow, Abraham H. 1999. Toward a psychology of being. 3d ed. New York: John Wiley.

    A classic text in humanistic psychology, in which Maslow uses studies of typical healthy individuals to demonstrate the “self-actualization” process.

  • McAdams, D. P. 2001. The psychology of life stories. Review of General Psychology 5.2: 100–122.

    DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.5.2.100

    This article reviews and integrates theory and research on the life story model of identity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Rogers, C. R. 1961. On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

    In this book, the founder of the humanistic psychology movement describes this approach to understanding human personality and to intervention based on this perspective.

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