In what way and why do we differ? What makes us become who we are? These are the questions personality research strives to answer by examining the sorts and extents of interindividual differences in psychologically relevant features (e.g., temperament, character traits, competences, interests or moral concepts). ersonality research investigates the reciprocal influences of such features, their stability and changeability, as well as their manifestation in individuals’ way of experiencing, feeling, and behaving. Finally personality research strives to identify relevant factors (e.g., genes, culture, family, friends, and critical life events) that influence personality differences and personality development.
No consistent and mandatory definition of the term “personality” has been established so far. Examples for defining personality are:
- “Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristics behavior and though” (Allport, 1961, p. 28).
rom these definitions that personality appears to be composed of different relatively stable physical and components, which affect each other, and that the components manifest in individual patterns of behaving and thinking. The SPeADy project seizes the core of these definitions and defines personality as relatively outlasting and cross-situational individual features referring to human experiencing, feeling, and behaving. Thus the individual personality expressein ly and consistent individual patterns of thinking, feeling.
Descriptions of individuals in different situations and at different points in time allow drawing conclusions about their personality. Individuals’ self-perceptions may differ from how they are perceived by others, and the way of perceiving oneself can be regarded as personality trait in itself. Thus examining personality should not only rely on self-descriptions but include the perception of individuals’ personality by others.
But what can be regarded as a personality trait? In some theoretical approaches only those characteristics are regarded as personality traits that are commonly referred to as “temperament” or “character“. While the term “temperament” describes inherent and relatively arbitrary aspects of behavior and emotional reactions, the term “character” refers to more or less learned and morally relevant personality aspects, e.g., in dealing with one’s own temperament or with others.
Other perspectives exceed the descriptions of temperament and character, and do not only ask for the manner of an individuals’ behavior but also for its aim and purpose. motivational determinants of behavior, as individual needs, motives, goals, and interests are shifted into the focus of personality research. Motives can be understood as fundamental motivations rooted in human nature, which can in individuals specific situational needs and personal goals. While motives and needs particular actions with specific goals, interests refer to the motivation for acti in general. Interests may not only examined regarding the motivational strength but also the contents of act (e.g., work- or leisure-interests).
Despite temperament, character, motives, goals, and interests individuals’ actions can be affected by personal beliefs, values, and attitudes. While values comprise perceptions and evaluations of broad and more abstract objects (e.g., love, equality or beauty), attitudes co perceptions and evaluations of specific objects, issues, and other persons (e.g., parties, environment protection, sports or foreigners). Faith can be as it refers to something “divine“. Individuals’ religiosity describes the extent to which they dwell on topics as the compliance with customs and conventions independent from the specific religion.
The SPeADy project is designed to decode the structural order and the dynamic interactions of these important and fundamental aspects of personality, and investigates the changes during individuals’ life spans. Therefor it is essential to examine a representative sample of heterogeneous age groups.