Scientific journal

New Psychological Research

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;,

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 


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keywords: the processual nature of personality, the classic ‘Paradox of Personality’, stability, variability, post-nonclassical science

received 22 June 2021

published 22 June 2021

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