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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: September 2020

6 - Personality and Emotion

from Part I - Foundational Issues: History and Approaches to Personality


Since its beginnings as a subdiscipline of psychology (e.g., Allport, 1937; Shand, 1914), personality psychologists have pursued two different, though related goals (see e.g., Cervone, 2005; Mischel & Shoda, 1998). The first goal is to construct a general theory of the person, understood as the integrated whole of the several subsystems of the mind. The second goal is to describe and explain the important psychological differences between individuals, that is, those relatively stable psychological attributes of individuals that allow us to uniquely characterize them and to distinguish them from each other. Most psychologists would agree that the emotion system is a central subsystem of personality, and that interindividual differences traceable to this system are important for describing individuals. However, if one accepts this, then it follows immediately that, to attain its goals, personality psychology must consider the emotions. In accordance with this conclusion, (1) most classical personality theorists proposed an affective (or affective–motivational) system as a core system of the mind (see, e.g., Shand, 1914; Murray, 1938), and emotions also play a prominent role in recent theories of personality (e.g., Mischel & Shoda, 1995). Furthermore, (2) most taxonomic models of stable and general (transsituational) psychological dispositions (usually called personality traits) include a subset of dispositions that refer directly or indirectly to emotions (see the second part of this chapter). Nonetheless, the in-depth investigation of emotions from a personality perspective has only begun comparatively recently, in the wake of an upsurge of interest in emotions that arose in the 1980s and continues to this day. Since that time, the previously largely separate fields of personality psychology and emotion psychology – the latter being the subdiscipline of psychology that studies emotions – are becoming increasingly integrated, to the benefit of both fields.

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