A functional perspective on personality

Marco Perugini, Giulio Costantini, Sean Hughes, Jan De Houwer
Published Online:
26 May 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 1

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Personality psychology has made enormous progresses over the years by accumulating empirical evidence on how patterns of stable individual differences in behaviours can be clustered systematically at different levels of abstraction (i.e. traits and facets) and how they can predict important consequential outcomes. At the same time, functionally orientated researchers have accumulated a vast body of knowledge on environment‐behaviour relations and the underlying behavioural principles, that is, abstract descriptions of the way in which behaviour is a function of elements in the past and present environment. We explore a functional perspective on personality that attempts to bridge the two domains and to exploit the best of both worlds. From this functional perspective, personality refers to the impact of the individual on different types of environment‐behaviour relations as well as on the way other factors moderate those relations. We discuss the potential of this functional perspective on personality to organise existing scientific knowledge and inspire future research.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science