A CHALLENGE TO THE TRAIT CONCEPT: INTEGRATING METHODS AND THEORIES

 

The field of personality aspires to develop a comprehensive theory of the person. A long-standing problem has been to develop data collection methods which do justice to the complexity of the person, and so develop a theory which does justice to such data. Numerous theoretical frameworks have been proposed in relative independence of each other and tend to use methods specific to each theory: for example, 'objective' checklist inventories for trait theories in contrast to more open-ended data collection procedures in contextualist and life narrative perspectives. McAdams has suggested organizing such theories globally into three 'levels' of analysis: traits, personal (contextual) concerns, and life-narrative structure. The purpose of the symposium is to raise the questions whether such levels are independent of each other, and whether the theoretical significance of a level can only be understood in terms of its relations to other so-called levels. Some research is discussed which explores the empirical relationships among different methods used in the field of personality. By establishing the degree to which the methods' data converge, a more complete empirical picture of the person can be provided for theoretical interpretation. In particular, the aim is to provide an interpretation of a Big-Five trait method/theory from a more contextualist and narrative approach to personality.

 

Huib Valkenberg & Michael W. Katzko, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Assessing behavioral contextualization with trait methodologies

 

Michael W. Katzko, Huib Valkenberg & Hubert J.M. Hermans, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Trait generalizations viewed as organizing tendencies and as values

 

Peter Raggatt, James Cook University, Australia
A dialogical interpretation of the Big Five?
Some empirically-derived links between personality traits and the dialogical self