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July 1, 1944

Persistence and Change in Personality Patterns

JAMA. 1944;125(9):683. doi:10.1001/jama.1944.02850270081030

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This monograph attempts to answer the question "Are human traits fixed, or are they modified by life experiences?" The material dealt with consists of the life histories of 25 women interviewed in the Advisory Service for College Women of the Mèrrill-Palmer School in Detroit. Part i presents three of these histories (original "average length 90,608 words") in condensed novelette form, but, possibly because the authors themselves did not do the interviewing, the published anamneses show little insight into the nuances of individual and social development of their subjects. Substituted are the usual clichés about "feelings of inferiority," "difficult relationships," "emotional outlets" and other phrases used as secondary evaluations of the original biographic data. From such histories, nevertheless, various "traits" such as "shyness" and "strong ego drive" are then further abstracted, coded, tabulated and analyzed for the factor of "persistence," which admittedly varied from case to case. Despite the methodologic tenuousness

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