Archive for the 'B) Personality Psychology' Category


Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

A central concept among Henry A. Murray’s theories is the idea of multiple components of personality—the global personality’s composition as a collection of subsystems, any one of which may become temporarily regnant. Intellectual and literary antecedents for this conceptualization can be identified, but Murray’s responsiveness to such ideas is likely to have had more personal origins. Certain aspects of his developmental history, including his relationships with significant others, his visual problems, and a rapid succession of occupational identities in his early career, appear to have sensitized him to theoretical and methodological issues neglected by theorists with dissimilar backgrounds.

Personality Characteristics Associated with Obedience and Defiance toward Authoritative Command

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Forty adult males, half having obeyed and half having defied authoritative commands to give high-voltage shocks to a fellow volunteer in a realistic experimental situation, were administered personality tests and questionnaires several months later. Obedient and defiant Ss showed little differentiation on the MMPI, but differed significantly on the California F Scale (p<.003). Significant attitudinal differences were displayed toward own father, experimenter, experimental confederate, sponsoring university, willingness to shoot at men in wartime, and other concepts, in patterns somewhat similar to “authoritarian personalities.” Experimental validation of personality differences previously reported in association with measures of authoritarianism was thus tentatively demonstrated. Exceptions to authoritarian patterns were noted.

Personality Theories I Find Most Useful

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Alan C. Elms There are personality theories that I admire but never use. Those listed below are theories that I have actually used in doing psychobiography. None of them works for every biographical subject, but each one works some of the time. For examples of use, see my book Uncovering Lives, or my chapter titled […]

Personality Psychology Organizations

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Alan C. Elms There are Freudian and Jungian and Skinnerian organizations, but I don’t belong to any of those. The American Psychological Association’s Division 8 calls itself the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and I belong to it, but it currently has little to do with personality theory. (Psychologists interested in personality theory are […]

Personality Theory F.A.Q.

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Alan C. Elms 1.) Q: What is personality? A: Most definitions of personality imply some fairly specific underlying personality theory, so I usually avoid giving a general definition of personality. If you insist, I’ll quote myself from the preface to my 1976 book “Personality in Politics,” page v: “I interpret personality as including any individual […]

Rae Carlson: An Exemplary Life

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Alan C. Elms [Presented at the Nineteenth Annual Conference of the Personology Society, Portland, Oregon, June 29, 2002] When Ravenna Helson nominated Rae Carlson for the Henry A. Murray Award in 1988, Ravenna’s nominating letter appropriately began by saying, “Nobody now active in personality psychology has worked as hard or accomplished as much to foster […]

Obedience as Personal Response: The Role of Individual Differences

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

[Originally published as Chapter 4c of Alan C. Elms, Social Psychology and Social Relevance (Boston: Little, Brown, 1964)] Obedience is a curse. That is what makes Germans. — Gertrude Stein, Yes Is for a Very Young Man The forty volunteers in each of Milgram’s experimental conditions were quite similar to every other forty volunteers in […]

Plain People: The Political Personality of the Average American Citizen

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

[Originally published as Chapter One of Alan C. Elms, Personality in Politics (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976)] Politics starts with the people. Not just “people,” but the people, as in “We, the people of the United States”: the ordinary men and women whose votes give political leaders whatever power they enjoy and whose postelectoral […]

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