Saint-Petersburg State University,
Considering today’s abundance of psychology books, from reprints of timeless classic works through scholarly editions to popular literature, it is hard to expect a new book to become a big event in psychology. However, a book entitled The Phenomenon of Envy is hard to overlook: as observed by the author, very few people are unaffected by envy. Besides, the name of the author, Aleksander I. Dontsov, former head of the Faculty of Psychology at Moscow State University and of the Russian Psychological Society, is well known among Russian scholars.
Keywords: book review, Aleksander I. Dontsov “Phenomenon of Envy”, Dontsov
Background. In psychology, analyzing the problem of personality is closely connected with the search for a methodology to describe personality in all its diversity. The dispositional approach, which is based on identifying stable personality traits, has resulted today in the dominance of a structural-functional approach. It has the advantage that it allows comparative analysis and the juxtaposition of specific personality characteristics inherent in the underlying construct, but it also has the limitation that it is inadequate for the study of personality as a dynamic structure, one capable of changing as the world around it changes.
Objective. To analyze and systematize the empirical studies of recent years in the field of personality psychology in order to identify and describe the principal trends in the study of the phenomenology of personality, reflecting distinctive features of human existence in the modern world.
Design. The method of research included a meta-analysis of reports (N = 1,149) from three European conferences on personality: the 17th European Conference on Personality (2014), Lausanne, Switzerland; the 18th European Conference on Personality (2016), Romania; the 19th European Conference on Personality (2018), Zadar, Croatia. We also describe the changeability of personality characteristics in the context of the individual’s life, on the basis of meta-analytical databases compiled by Roberts et al. (2006) and Wrzus et al. (2016).
Results. The results demonstrate the continuing domination of structural methodology in empirical studies of personality, despite the criticism to which it has been subjected. However, the number of studies of various aspects of dynamic personality processes is growing. Research reflecting the phenomenology of everyday life is expanding, as studies of daily human behavior, life events, and life situations are increasing proportionally. Researchers’ attention is being drawn to diverse contexts of life: the environment, culture, relationships. Data collection technologies are changing: Digital devices enable information about personality to be obtained online, tracking all the diversity of personality in different situations, its changeability and dynamism. Metadata indicate the changeability of personality traits that have long been considered stable: extraversion, emotional stability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness. The dynamics of personality traits are essentially determined by the context of a person’s life and vary depending on changes in that life. The continuity of these changes is processual and does not fit into the structural approach.
Conclusion. Modern personality psychology has contradictory trends. On the one hand, especially in empirical research, the traditional structural-functional paradigm for describing the personality remains influential, while attempts are made to improve it in response to criticism. On the other hand, an increasing number of studies are devoted to the study of real people in the real world, confronting the challenges of a changing world. A growing amount of empirical data describing the dynamic personality, changing in time and space, necessitates theoretical understanding and the search for a methodology relevant to the study of the changing personality.
Keywords: personality psychology, dynamic personality, structuralfunctional approach, processual approach