What is a "level" of personality?

  • McAdams D
  • Manczak E
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Comments on an article by Kennon M. Sheldon, Cecilia Cheng and Jonathan Hilpert (see record 2011-05051-001). We find much to admire in Sheldon, Cheng, and Hilpert’s (this issue) ambitious effort to capture the full gamut of personality within a broad integrative framework. The Multilevel Personality in Context (MPIC) model brings together many important concepts and findings from diverse research programs and traditions to underscore the multifaceted nature of personality and the complex ways in which it is conceptualized in biology, social relations, and culture. Sympathetic with much of the effort put forth by Sheldon and colleagues and appreciative of their desire to build on previous work of others, we nonetheless question the extent to which personality itself can be adequately characterized in terms of a strict hierarchy of nested levels. The target article raises the question of just what a level is—and in particular, what is a level of personality? In conclusion, we submit that strict hierarchical models of personality promise more than they can deliver when it comes to comprehending the full gamut of psychological individuality. As we see it, the developing person successively takes on, over the long course of human life, the three basic self challenges of being a social actor, a motivated agent, and an autobiographical author within and across those social groups and contexts wherein his or her actions, goals, and stories all make sense. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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  • Dan P. McAdams

  • Erika Manczak

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