How Does Personality Develop?

Authored by: Dan P. McAdams , Jonathan M. Adler

Handbook of Personality Development

Print publication date:  April  2006
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9780805847161
eBook ISBN: 9781315805610
Adobe ISBN: 9781317778073

10.4324/9781315805610.ch23

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Abstract

Our university library lists no entries for “handbooks” on “personality development.” Either our collection is inadequate or, more likely, nobody before Dan Mroczek and Todd Little has ever succeeded in putting together a volume like this one. The editors of the current handbook may be crazy or visionary, or else things may be different today than they have been for the past 100 years, because there are good reasons to be skeptical about any efforts to bring together two fields of inquiry that have historically had little to do with each other—that is, personality psychology and the study of human development. Personality psychologists are, by training and maybe even temperament, suspicious of the idea of development, for to them it means change (i.e., instability, inconsistency), and personality is nothing if it is not at least somewhat enduring. Developmentalists, on the other hand, specialize in a certain kind of change—meaningful and orderly change over time. For them, lives are dynamic and evolving, resistant to the neat categorizations of traits and types. To make matters worse for any handbook editor, a vocal contingent of social scientists (e.g., Mischel, 1968; Shweder, 1975) has long questioned the utility of the very concept of “personality.” Does personality even exist? What is it anyway? If scientists don't know what it is and they even doubt its very existence, then how can they say that personality develops?

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