The Nature of Personality: Selected Papers

The Nature of Personality: Selected Papers

The Nature of Personality: Selected Papers

The Nature of Personality: Selected Papers

Excerpt

For some years I have been unable to supply reprints of most of the papers that are here republished. People who request copies often do not have access to the original sources where the articles were first printed. Furthermore, there is a certain logical coherence among these eleven studies that seems to justify bringing them together in an orderly and convenient series. Except for the final paper in the series, the articles have been photographed exactly as they first appeared in print.

With few exceptions, these papers have been printed since 1937, the year that marked the publication of my book Personality:
a psychological interpretation. All of them represent in one way or another clarifications or amplifications of the theory of personality presented in that volume. Some of the articles were written explicitly in answer to critics who expressed their disagreements and misgivings in print. Others represent expansions in theory or application provoked by my own dissatisfaction with my previously stated position.

Since the papers were written over a period of years and for various occasions there is no strict continuity among them. Yet a common orientation to the science of psychology in general, and to the theory of personality in particular, marks them all. The present arrangement places those papers that are most closely related in theme adjacent to one another. The fact that the order is at the same time roughly chronological is perhaps a sign that the logical development of an author's thought is of necessity temporally conditioned.

The opening article on Attitudes gives a standard account of the status of this concept up to the year 1935. Instructors sometimes refer students who are preparing themselves on the backgrounds of social psychology to this paper. Attitudes are here viewed as important (often the most important) determiners of the social behavior of the individual. Although there have been various attempts since 1935 to dislodge the concept, one wonders whether its critics (learning theorists, phenomenologists, field theorists) have done more than help refine it. For example, one may agree wholeheartedly that attitudes are learned, that they operate at any given time through a convergent perception, thus reflecting the impact of the situation upon the individual, and that they always serve a functional role in the economy of a person's life as a whole-- without surrendering the concept. Insofar as social behavior of the individual reflects organization, recurrence, and similarity, the doctrine of attitude (or some close equivalent) seems indispensable. Since 1935 a whole new realm of attitude research has opened up in social psychology, namely, public opinion polling. While this research is generally regarded as having a practical and applied bent, the logic of its procedures and its underlying theory raise many . . .

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