Thursday, June 6, 2013
History of Personality Psychology
Personality psychology is the centerpiece of psychology as a whole, and it is with reference to individual persons that many of the most important theories, findings, and applications in psychology must be oriented.
First Period of Personality Psychology
The first period of personality psychology was from approximately 1930 to 1950 was marked by the establishment of the field and the development of a number of general systems. Comprehensive conceptual systems for understanding the person were proposed by personality psychologists during the 1930s and 1940s (McAdams, 2009). During this first period of personality psychology personality was established as a vigorous field of scientific inquiry in university settings by Gordon W. Allport and his greatest contribution is probably the textbook he published in 1937: Personality: A Psychological Interpretation (McAdams, 2009). The importance of this first period can be seen as the establishment and development of personality psychology and Gordon W. Allport’s work still defines personality psychology today.
Second Period of Personality Psychology
The second period of personality psychology was from 1950 to 1970. Departments of psychology are more specialized and have grown, spanning professional specializations in personality-related areas as counseling, clinical, and in industrial/organizational psychology. During this period research efforts were focused on elaborating and the examination of certain personality constructs. These were the need for achievement, anxiety, extraversion, as well as needs, motives, and traits. The importance of this was the ability to measure and the impact on behavior could be observed. During this period grand theories of personality psychology established in the 1930s and 1940s were put to the side in order for more focus on controversies and problems which concerned personality measurement. The importance of this was issue was that it brought about debates in personality psychology over the efficacy of trait-based versus situation-based approaches to predicting and understanding social behavior.
Third Period of Personality Psychology
The third period of personality psychology started around 1970 and is still present today. Buss, Cantor, Hogan, Johnson, Briggs, Maddi, McAdams, Pervin, and West asserted “the phase began with critique and pervasive doubt concerning the legitimacy and worth of personality studies, but it evolved by the mid-1980s into a broad sense of renewal and revitalization” (as cited in McAdams, 2009). Personality research has and will continue to be sensitive and more sensitive to external situational factors and complex interactions of internal personality variables in the prediction of behavior. Now there are new research methodologies in place that further the scientific study of people. The importance of this third and continuing period is that there has been growth and a need for further growth and understanding in personality psychology.
All three periods have provided key roles in the development and advancement of personality psychology.