November 1972


Author Affiliations

Silver Spring, Md
From the Institute for Behavioral Research, Silver Spring, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;27(5):575-580. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750290005001

The complexity of the term "personality" is briefly described, with emphasis on the inherent social connotations and the implications of intimacy and transcendental evaluation this term conveys. In contrast, "personality," when used as a hypothetical construct in technical jargon, is ambiguous to obscure. The behavioral approach to phenomena routinely included in "the personality" is discussed. The effects of environmental and consequential contingencies on reports of subjective phenomena and the development of "personality traits" under appropriate schedules of reinforcement are illustrated. An increasing current trend is noted toward behavioral methods and operational terminology which will permit replication of studies with clearly defined variations. It is concluded that the term "personality," with its rich, socially inclusive connotations, is germane to the clinic, but has no place in the laboratory.