Cloniger’s Personality

Theories of Personality: Understanding Persons (5th Edition) The book is Theories of Personality: Understanding Persons. Aside from the awkward title, it’s not a bad book. I don’t mind being a person but I think the multiple is people. I applauder the attempt to be gender neutral; I hate this particular implementation.

The fifth edition was published in 2008 but that’s no problem. Textbooks on personality don’t really need to be updated yearly. And you’ll find this book widely used.

Overall, it’s a good choice. The writing is clear. The illustrations aren’t exceptional but they are well done. If you like pull-quotes, you’ll love it. Personally, I could do with a few less. The hardcover and weight of paper tell you it meets Pearson’s high-quality standards. It’s the kind of book you should buy and keep. It’s not a throwaway.

The order of presentation is straightforward. You start with Freud. She puts Jung with Freud and before Adler (which is chronologically wrong) but I suppose she’s highlighting the shift Adler is making toward more social explanations of personality.

So it’s Freud-Jung. Then Adler, Erikson, Horney and object relations. This second cluster doesn’t include Anna Freud (Sigmund’s youngest daughter) or her ongoing fight with Melanie Klein (one of the founders of object relations. And that’s pretty consistent with the presentation: the theories are well-described but there’s no insight to the people who formed them. It’s all business and no fun.

The third unit is on trait theory. It’s well done but starts with Allport’s modern trait theory, and not ancient trait theory. The fourth unit of learning theories is also well done but limits itself to Skinner. Pavlov’s dogs didn’t make the cut. She does show how Dollard & Miller combined learning theory and Freudian thought. They essentially explained Freud by running rats through mazes.

The fifth unit includes Miscel, Bandura and Kelly. It’s sort of miscellaneous pairing . And calling them Cognitive Social Theory doesn’t help because none of them thought of themselves as being cognitive theorists. And those who do (Beck and Ellis) weren’t freatured.

The last unit is called Humanistic. It includes Rogers and Maslow. And the presentation is fine. Unfortunately, Buddhism also receives a chapter.

Now, I like Buddhism. Although I was drop-shipped to America, I was created in China. So I have some affinity for Asian things. And I like presenting a wide range of ideas. But if you’re going to include specific religious-philosophical views, I think you need to go all the way. You should include Hindi, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Islamic psychology. There is also atheism, paganism, shamanism, animism, and other “isms.” Traditional African religion has broad views of personality too. All in all, don’t buy the book for this feature unless you have a particular affinity for Zen.


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