The Future of Personality Theory: a Processual Approach

  • Svetlana N. KostrominaEmail author
  • Natalia V. Grishina
Regular Article


The perpetual discussion of approaches and principles in the study of personality has been one of the notable trends of development of psychological science over many decades. The structural approach, based on the delineation of a person’s traits and characteristics, made an important contribution to various branches of psychology, but now the scientific community has recognized the limitations of a structural understanding of personality. Its inadequacy becomes particularly obvious in today’s conditions, when fundamental changes pose a challenge to man’s ability to respond flexibly to changing conditions of everyday existence, as well as to larger-scale changes. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is obvious that there is a need for new ways to understand and describe the personality: Scholars are calling for study of the dynamic personality, of the personality as an open system. At the foundational level, modern personality psychology should incorporate classical ideas about its structure; secondly, it should consider personality in the context of the individual’s lifetime; and – at the highest level – it should describe personality as the subject of Being. We submit our own description of personality psychology’s problem field.


Personality psychology Problem field of personality psychology Processual approach Structural approach Existential approach Situational and contextual level Everyday life psychology 



We wish to thank Jaan Valsiner for his invitation to write this paper and Susan Welsh for her help with the translation.


The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict Interest

The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by the author.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Personality PsychologySt. Petersburg State UniversitySaint-PetersburgRussia

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