The use of everyday personality language for scientific purposes


  • Willem K. B. Hofstee

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Groningen, The Netherlands
    • Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2-1, 9712 TS, Groningen, The Netherlands
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The major question of the article is whether the natural language of personality provides an adequate point of departure for the construction of a scientific system of personological categories. Five obstacles to this endeavour are: (1) the domain is dificult to delineate, both with respect to its categories and in the choosing of items within categories; (2) the extent to which terms can be translated from one language to another appears to be limited; (3) the overwhelming role of evaluative aspects is embarrassing from a scientific point of view; (4) instead of obeying simple and clear taxonomic principles, the domain appears to be unruly in this respect; and (5) many terms and expressions are paradoxical when used in the first person. Tentative and partial solutions to these problems are proposed.