Critique on Gordon Allport (Theories of Personality)

Topics: Psychology, Personality psychology, Scientific method Pages: 7 (2590 words) Published: November 12, 2012
Gordon Allport- theory review


Boitumelo Chantelle Mangope

Gordon Allport was truly a phenomenal personality theorist who explained what a personality is and he bent most of the rules that were set out by other theorists including the father of personality himself, Sigmund Freud and in addition to that, he considered Freud’s theory of personality as the worst theory of all time.

The Life of Gordon Allport
Gordon Allport was the first American-born personality theorist and hailed from the state of Indiana, Montezuma. He was born on 11 November 1897 and died a month before his 70th birthday (9 October 1967) due to lung cancer. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts, (majoring in Economics and Philosophy), Masters of Art in 1921 and a PhD (all three at Harvard University) at the tender age of 24. After he completed his degree, he took a gap year and taught English and Sociology at a university in Istanbul, Turkey. Gordon was lucky to have encountered an experience with Sigmund Freud for when he was returning back to the U.S to start off fellowship to do graduate work in psychology at Harvard, he stopped off at Vienna to visit one of his brothers and wrote to Freud (who was situated there) a letter asking for permission to visit him. The permission was granted and he explained there encounter as an unsuccessful on. He told Freud a story of whereby he met a young boy in a tram car ride who had a dirt phobia and he frantically told his mother not to let a dirty man sit next to him. Freud then went on to insinuate that the little boy was Allport and this caused a misunderstanding between them. This event lead to Allport having to probe further into psychology and the elements of personality because he felt that depth psychology overlooked the important truths. He developed a theory that ignored the unconscious and that was not scientifically-based thus, stating that in order for one to learn about an individual, they have to be studied and not base the person’s personality on their unconscious motives nor on a study that was based on a group of people and an average which determined that group’s personality was found.

During his prime, he held many prestigious positions and received many honors. Firstly, he served as the President of the American Psychological Association (1939) and also president of the Eastern Psychological Association (1943). He was also the editor of the Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology (1937-1949) and in 1964, he received the APA’s Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology. In addition to that, he received another award, i.e. APA’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (1964) and as if that wasn’t enough, he was the first lecturer to teach the first course on psychology (the course was dubbed Personality: Its Psychological & Social Aspects) ever offered in the United States. Work

Gordon Allport was one of the first psychologists to focus on the study of personality, and is often referred to as one of the fathers of personality. He believed that one’s personality could not be determined from the support of science and rather, through thoroughly studying an individual. He defined personality as “the dynamic organization within an individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment” Allport was a trait theorist who believed that one’s personality was made up from different traits (i.e. mental structures which initiate and guide reactions and thus ultimately accounts for the consistency in one’s behavior) and those traits were organized accordingly. To further support this, he said that those traits arise within a given situation e.g. if one has a trait of being aggressive, that trait will be suppressed until the need for it to be exposed to a situation due to a stimulus (e.g. during a quarrel). He rejected the behavioral (which he thought was too deep) and humanistic (which he thought wasn’t deep...
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