Overview of Allports Psychology of the Individual

More than any other personality theorist, Gordon Allport emphasized the uniqueness of the individual. He believed that attempts to describe people hi terms of general traits rob them of their unique individuality. For this reason, Allport objected to trait and factor theories that tend to reduce individual behaviors to common traits. He insisted for example, that one person's stubbornness is different from any other person's stubbornness and the maimer hi which one person's stubbornness hiteracts with his or her extraversión and creativity is duplicated by no other individual.

Consistent with Allport's emphasis on each person's uniqueness was his willingness to study in depth a single individual. He called the study of the individual morphogenic science and contrasted it with the nomothetic methods used by most other psychologists. Morphogenic methods are those that gather data on a single individual, whereas nomothetic methods gather data on groups of people. Allport also advocated an eclectic approach to theory building. He accepted some of the contributions of Freud Maslow, Rogers, Eysenck, Skhmer, and others; but he believed that no one of these theorists is able to adequately explahi the total growing and unique personality. To Allport, a broad comprehensive theory is preferable to a narrow, specific theory even if it does not generate as many testable hypotheses.

Allport argued agahist particularism, or theories that emphasize a single aspect of personality, hi an important warning to other theorists, he cautioned them not to "forget what you have decided to neglect" (Allport, 1968, p. 23).

In other words, no theory is completely comprehensive, and psychologists should always realize that much of human nature is not included hi any single theory. To Allport, a broad, comprehensive theory is preferable to a narrow, specific theory even if it does not generate as many testable hypotheses.

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