Methods of Personality Research – Clinical vs. Experimental

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The development of personality has long been an area of extreme interest to psychologists and psychoanalysts alike and many different theories of personality have developed over the years. From Sigmund Freud to B.F. Skinner, everyone seems to have not only an opinion of what personality is and how it develops but also an idea as to what is the best way to measure and report their findings. In order to test their theories, it was necessary to formulate methods of research that were effective, ethical and would provide a solid foundation for future personality research.Although both the clinical and experimental methods of personality research have lent themselves to our present day understanding of the human psyche and personality, each has done so in vastly different ways. Freud and his colleagues, who pioneered the clinical research method, chose to observe their clients in an up close and personal fashion. A great deal of their research findings came from interviews with psychologically disturbed patients. Personality psychologists who opt for the clinical method of research regard their work as both a method of gathering information and testing hypothesis as well as an opportunity to provide therapy and encourage healing. Therefore, the clinical method is very person oriented and allows for a more intimate study of the individual personality.Proponents of the experimental method are equally as dedicated to their methods of research. Not unlike clinical researchers, experimental researchers regard their methods as the best way of gathering information to support hypothesis regarding personality. Although their methods are not as up close and personal as those who study using the clinical method, they are certainly valuable. Experimental research is often regarded as the best form of research, due to its strict adherence to rigid research guidelines. Although neither of these two methods are infallible, each has its own merits and...
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