Kostromina S.N. Classic “Paradox of Personality”: Is there a theoretical and methodological basis for a solution?
Svetlana N. Kostromina, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of Personality Psychology Department, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia; nab. Makarova, 6, St. Petersburg, Russia 199034; firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Can the classic “Paradox of Personality “formulated by W. Michel be solved? The article provides ideas of post-non-classical science to explain stability and variability as complementary properties of personality. The personality as an open, complex, self-developing system has all the signs of imbalance. The instability and multiplicity of states, their unpredictability and irreversibility, reveal the fluidity (continuous, constant, consistent change) of the inner content of the personality and emphasize its processual nature. In such structure, all changes are irreversible, have a probabilistic character, and are determined by multiple factors. Those are the sensitivity to fluctuations, the multiplicity of potential states, and the processes of self-determination. The personality’s procedurality reveals the ability to transition to new levels of functioning. It indicates the ability to transform, to generate new elements, to change structurally and meaningfully, to become more complex and reduced, that is, to constantly change in an infinite and indefinite set of options. Therefore, the variability of personality is not an opposition to stability. Variability is the opposition to static. The complexity of the personality system, that is, the build-up of new levels of organization, is accompanied by a change in its spatial and temporal organization. Each new stage of the functional organization of the personality is a period of its stability (structural orderliness), which carries the “embryo” of further change. Each new change leads to an increase in the complexity of the structure and levels of organization of the individual and, consequently, to an increase in its stability. The relationship between these trends (stability and variability) is the basis for the development of a processual approach in personality psychology, the essence of which is the preservation of stability through constant change. The processual approach is focused on studying the potential of the personality system to form new structures. The focus of research in the processual approach shifts to the potentially possible, and the object of research is not the existing, but the emerging.
Key words: the processual nature of personality, the classic ‘Paradox of Personality’, stability, variability, post-nonclassical science
For citation: Kostromina, S.N. (2021). Classic “Paradox of Personality”: Is there a theoretical and methodological basis for a solution? New Psychological Research, No. 2, pp. 7–30, DOI: 10.51217/npsyresearch_2021_01_02_01
Asmolov, A.G., Shekhter, E.D., Chernorizov, A.M. (2017). Pre-adaptation to uncertainty as a navigation strategy for developing systems: routes of evolution. Voprosy psikhologii, 4, 3–26.
Bergson, H. (2019). Creative evolution. (L’évolution créatrice. Paris, 1907). Moscow: Izd-vo Akademicheskii proekt.
Bernstein, N.A. (1966). Essays on the physiology of movements and the physiology of activity. Moscow: Meditsina.
Castells, M. (1998). The Information Age; Economy, Society and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cinnirella, M. (1998). Exploring temporal aspects of social identity: the concept of possible social identities. European Journal of Social Psychology, 28(2), 227–248.
Corr P.J., Matthews G. (Eds.). (2020). The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology Second Edition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Gosling, S. (2016). No excuses, it’s time to study real people in the real world. In Abstract book of the 18th European Conference on Personality, 19–23 July 2016, Romania (p. 115). Retrieved from http://www.eapp.org/meetings/conferences/ecp18/
Guseltseva, M.S. (2018). Metamodernism in psychology: new methodological strategies and changes in subjectivity. Vestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo universiteta. Psikhologiya, 8(4), 327–340.
Hermans, H.J.M. (2001). Dialogical Self: Toward a theory of Personal and Cultural Positioning. Culture & Psychology, 7(3), 243–281.
Hjelle, L., Ziegler, D. (1997). Theories of personality. St. Petersburg: Piter.
Kostromina, S.N., Grishina, N.V. (2018). The Future of Personality Theory: a Processual Approach. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 52(2), 296–306. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-018-9420-3.
Kostromina, S.N. (2019). Personality Research Methodology: Structural Approach vs. dynamic. In N.V. Grishina (Ed.), Psychology of personality. Staying in Change: A Collective Monograph (pp. 17–54). St. Petersburg: Izd-vo Sankt-Peterburgskogo un-ta.
Lewin, K. (2001). Dynamic psychology: Selected works. Moscow: Smysl.
Martsinkovskaya, T.D. (2016). Culture and subculture in the space of a psychological chronotope. Moscow: Smysl.
Mischel, W. (2004). Toward an integrative science of the person. Annual Review of Psychology, 55(1), 1–22. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.55.042902.130709
Mischel, W. (2014). The Marshmallow Test: Mastering self-control. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Company.
Nicolis, G., Prigogine, I. (1979). Self-organization in nonequilibrium systems: from dissipative structures to ordering through fluctuation. Moscow: Mir.
Petrovsky, V.A. (1997). Essay on the theory of free causality. In: D. Leontiev, V.G. Schur (Eds.), Psychology with a human face: a humanistic perspective in post-Soviet psychology (pp. 124–144). Moscow: Smysl.
Prigogine, I., Stengers, I. (1986). Order from chaos: A new dialogue between man and nature. Moscow: Progress.
Rubinstein, S.L. (2003). Being and consciousness. Man and the world. St. Petersburg: Piter.
Sergienko, E.A., Ulanova, A.Yu., Lebedeva, E.I. (2020). Model of the Mental: Structure and Dynamics. Moscow: Izd-vo «Institut psikhologii RAN.
Stepin, V.S. (2009). Classical, non-classical, post-non-classical: criteria for distinguishing In: L.P. Kiyashchenko, V.S. Stepin (Eds.), Post-nonclassics: philosophy, science, culture. (рр. 249–295). St. Petersburg: Izdatel’skii dom «Mir”».
Taleb, N. (2009). Black Swan. Under the sign of unpredictability. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Ko Libr.
Turner, J. (1994). Self and collective: cognition and social context. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(5), 454–463.
Uher, J. (2013). Personality Psychology: Lexical Approaches, Assessment Methods, and Trait Concepts Reveal Only Half of the Story—Why it is Time for a Paradigm Shift. Integrative Psychology Behavior, 47, 1–55.
Van Geert, P., van Dijk, M. (2002). Focus on variability: new tools to study intra-individual variability in developmental data. Infant Behavior & Development, 25, 340–374.
Wiener N. (1964). I am a mathematician. Moscow.
Zaitseva, Yu.E. (2019). “It’s not Adam getting smaller, just a tree growing”: methodological notes on a changeable person in a changeable world (based on one review). Vestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo universiteta. Psikhologiya, 9(4), 346–358.
Zhuravlev, A.L., Kharlamenkova, N.E. (2009). Psychology of personality as an open and developing system. Psikhologicheskii zhurnal, 30(6), 30–39.
received 22 June 2021
published 22 June 2021