Because personality theories grow from theorists' own personalities, a study of those personalities is appropriate. In recent years a subdiscipline of psychology called psychology of science has begun to look at personal traits of scientists. The psychology of science studies both science and the behavior of scientists; that is, it investigates the impact of an individual scientist's psychological processes and personal characteristics on the development of her or his scientific theories and research (Feist, 1993, 1994, in press; Feist & Gorman, 1998; Gholson, Shadish, Neumyer & Hoults, 1989). In other words, the psychology of science examines how scientists' personalities, cognitive processes, developmental histories, and social experience affect the kind of science they conduct and the theories they create. Indeed, a number of investigators (Hart, 1982; Johnson, Genner, Efran, & Overton, 1988; Simonton, 2000; Zacliar & Leong, 1992) have demonstrated that personality differences influence one's theoretical orientation as well as one's inclination to lean toward the "hard" or "soft" side of a discipline.
An understanding of theories of personality rests on information regarding the historical, social, and psychological worlds of each theorist at the time of his or her theorizing. Because we believe that personality theories reflect the theorist's personality, we have included a substantial amount of biographical information on each major theorist. Indeed, personality differences among theorists account for fundamental disagreements between those who lean toward the quantitative side of psychology (behaviorists, social learning theorists, and trait theorists) and those inclined toward the clinical and qualitative side of psychology (psychoanalysts, humanists, and existentialists).
Although a theorists personality partially shapes his or her theory, it should not be the sole determinant of that theory. Likewise, your acceptance of one or another theory should not rest only on your personal values and predilections. When evaluating and choosing a theory, you should acknowledge the impact of the theorist's personal history on the theory, but you should ultimately evaluate it on the basis of scientific criteria that are independent of that personal history. Some observers (Feist, 2005; Feist & Gorman, 1998) have distinguished between science as process and science as product. The scientific process may be influenced by the personal characteristics of the scientist, but the ultimate usefuhiess of the scientific product is and must be evaluated independently of the process. Thus, your evaluation of each of the theories presented in this book should rest more on objective criteria than on your subjective likes and dislikes.
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