Perspectives on the PersonRapid Growth and Opportunities for Integration

William Fleeson

in The Oxford Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398991
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Perspectives on the PersonRapid Growth and Opportunities for Integration


This chapter addresses the P of the Lewinian equation, B = f (P, E), by providing a conceptual map of perspectives on how to characterize the P, that is, how to characterize persons. Because most of these perspectives operate within personality psychology, this chapter emphasizes those perspectives within personality, but because several perspectives on the person operate within social psychology, this chapter describes those perspectives as well. When Lewin wrote his equation, he intended that the P and E (environment) parts would be considered in tandem. Thus, this chapter also considers from a personality perspective the prospects and potential routes of integration between personality and social psychology; the chapter argues that although integration has proceeded a great deal, the two fields still hold each other at a kind of arm’s-length mutual acceptance. The final section of the chapter describes a theory of personality, whole trait theory, which includes both P and E in its formulation as one possible way to close that last arm’s-length distance. In this theory, traits become both explanatory and descriptive concepts, require both persons and situations to be described, and become investigated with both correlational and experimental methods.

Keywords: personality; social; Lewin; Allport; traits; integration; overview; person-situation debate; behavior; whole traits

Article.  24197 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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