Chapter 4 - In Defense of Traits1
Review articleOpen access
1997/01/01 Simple chapter DOI: 10.1016/B978-012134645-4/50005-6
Publisher SummaryThis chapter focuses on the theories and the viewpoints of personality. For a number of reasons, it is convenient to consider “personality” as the general psychology of individual differences. In attempting to account for individual differences, a variety of viewpoints must be brought to bear on a common subject matter. A viewpoint is an approach to the empirical study of personality that is based on assumptions concerning the importance of certain kinds of constructs. The term “viewpoint” is used instead of the term “method” to emphasize that methods involve constructs and that they impose constraints upon observations. The viewpoints of personality study are established in their own right because they represent traditional and respectable areas of psychological investigation— such as biological psychology, experimental psychology, social psychology, and psychometrics. A theory is an extended construct system of broad range and scope that typically attempts an integration of constructs from several viewpoints. A theory of personality achieves a certain prestige by emphasizing a particular viewpoint. The methods of the viewpoint cannot be substituted for the propositions of the theory. A theory can be discredited without discrediting the method that it espouses. The psychometric-trait viewpoint has recently been judged guilty in virtue of its association with certain personality theories.
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