Personality and Individual Differences

That people differ from each other is obvious. How and why they differ is less clear and is an important part of the study of personality. Personality psychology addresses the questions of shared human nature, dimensions of individual differences and unique patterns of individuals.

Research in personality ranges from analyses of genetic codes and studies of biological systems to the study of sexual, social, ethnic, and cultural bases of thought, feelings, and behavior. Personality research includes studies of cognitive abilities, interpersonal styles, and emotional reactivity. Methods range from laboratory experiments to longitudinal field studies and include data reduction techniques such as factor analysis and principal components analysis, as well as structural modeling and multi-level modeling procedures. Measurement issues of most importance are those of reliability and stability of individual differences.

Research in individual differences addresses three broad questions: 1) developing an adequate descriptive taxonomy of how people differ; 2) applying differences in one situation to predict differences in other situations; and 3) testing theoretical explanations of the structure and dynamics of individual differences.

These pages are meant to guide those interested in personality theory and research to the current personality research literature. Although some of the readings are available on-line, all should be available from most university libraries. Abstracts of many recent articles are available by using search engines such as Medline.

Information about scholarly societies and graduate training programs in personality is provided for those interested in pursuing further study in personality theory. Course syllabi from personality theory and research courses are being added gradually. Suggestions for links to active researchers and personality laboratories are welcome.

Issues of personality appeal to everyone and there are many interesting web sites that can be visited both inside and outside of academia. Selected links to non-academic pages devoted to personality theory are included with an emphasis upon non-commercial sites. Some of these sites have examples of personality and ability tests that are similar to more standard testing instruments.

The personality project is meant to be a cooperative endeavor for and by all of us interested in the study of personality. This means that suggestions for links to other pages and corrections to the current pages are always welcome. They will be added as time permits.