A general quantitative theory of personality development: Fundamentals of a self-organizing psychobiological complex

N. M. Švrakić, Dragan M. Švrakić, C. Robert Cloninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

A general theory of personality and its development is described in terms of four quantitative dimensions of temperament and three quantitative dimensions of character. The four temperament dimensions (harm avoidance, novelty seeking, reward dependence, and persistence) are moderately heritable, moderately stable throughout life, and invariant despite sociocultural influences. The three character dimensions (self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence) mature in a stepwise manner from early childhood throughout adulthood. Transitions between levels of maturity are nonlinear functions of temperament, specific genetic influences, social learning, and random life events. Personality development is quantitatively formulated in terms of nonlinear dynamics of a complex adaptive system. The psychosocial interpretation of personality as a fitness-optimizing process is described and illustrated in terms of available data about the development of different personality configurations. Several quantitative predictions of this theory of personality development are tested, including the sequence of emergence of the different character dimensions, individual differences in the development of stable temperament configurations, and the effects of sociocultural influences. The theoretical predictions agree with available empirical data and suggest many hypotheses for future developmental research, including etiological, dynamic, and therapeutic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-272
Number of pages26
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Volume8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

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