Nashville, TN, USA
Background. The study of personality, particularly the investigation of individual personality, remains a thorny issue in psychological science. Many personality studies utilize aggregated data to make comparative statements about groups of persons. Though important for group comparisons, this body of research neglects a careful examination of individual personality.
Objective. To enhance psychologists’ understanding of individual personality process and variation.
Results and conclusion. This theoretical article suggests two strategies to augment the exploration of individual personality. First, our understanding of individual personality will be enhanced if personality psychologists broaden their research activities to include strategies that lead to a better understanding of individuals rather than groups. These efforts include both qualitative approaches and person-specific quantitative analyses that target individual process and variation. Second, personality psychologists should actively seek greater cultural sensitivity via interdisciplinary collaborations. In particular, the conceptual resources of comparative philosophy and the study of cultural ontological traditions will enhance the ability of personality psychologists to scientifically track the process and variation of individual personality. To this end, the article examines the structural ontology of the West and contrasts it with the process (event based) ontology of the East, showing how these ontological traditions continue to shape the discourse of personality psychology. The article also considers the oneness hypothesis, the world view that all persons (and personalities), creatures, and things are relationally bound together, a viewpoint distinct from the Western value of autonomy and self-sufficiency. As a conceptual resource, the oneness hypothesis derives from a process ontology and has important implications for understanding individual personalities and their place in the social world.
Keywords: Personality structure, personality process, cultural psychology, ontology, the oneness hypothesis