Explorations in personality today and tomorrow: A tribute to Henry A. Murray

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Abstract

H. A. Murray's theory of personality and his research approach were high watermarks in the study of personality. Although selected aspects of his theory and contributions to methodology, such as the TAT, have been highly influential, his greater contribution, which consists of his overall theory and approach to conducting research, has not enjoyed the acceptance it deserves. Instead, psychologists elected to pursue a narrow vision of science, one in which rigorous laboratory methods were applied to relatively trivial behavior, inadequately sampled. There is reason to hope that the situation will improve, because there is mounting evidence that the laboratory experiment as customarily practiced is in serious trouble because of inherent limitations in replicability and generalizability. One solution lies in studying adequate samples of people in depth and in breadth, the approach followed by Murray 40 yrs ago. The recent interest in interactionism should also contribute to renewed interest in Murray's theory, for the system he proposed 40 yrs ago remains the most detailed and inclusive one for representing the individual, the environment, and their interaction. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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