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Individuality and Generalization in the Psychology of Personality: A Theoretical Rationale for Personality Assessment and Research

  • Robert R. Holt

Abstract

One of the hardiest perennial weeds in psychology’s conceptual garden is the notion that there are nomothetic (generalizing) and idiographic (individualizing) branches, types, or emphases of science. Many respected and important contributors to psychology—especially to personology, the psychology of personality—have quoted these terms with respect and have used them as if they contributed something useful to methodology (e.g., Allport, 1937a; Beck, 1953; Bellak, 1956; Bertalanffy, 1951; Colby, 1958; Dymond, 1953; Falk, 1956; Hoffman, 1960; Sarbin, 1944; Stephenson, 1953; the list could be considerably extended). It is the purpose of this essay to examine the historical origins of this cumbersome pair of concepts, their logical implications, the reasons psychologists espouse them, and alternative solutions to the underlying problems. In so doing, I hope—no doubt fondly, but none the less ardently—to lay this Teutonic ghost which haunts and confounds much of modern psychology.

Keywords

Natural Science Ideal Type Unique Individual General System Theory Romantic Movement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert R. Holt
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Mental HealthNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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