Who should own the definition of personality?


  • Willem K. B. Hofstee

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Groningen, The Netherlands
    • University of Groningen, The Heymans Institute, Grote Kruisstraat 2-1, 9712 TS, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • This paper contains the presidential address of the 7th Conference of the European Association for Personality Psychology (EAPP), Madrid, July 12–16, 1994.


The averaged judgment of knowledgeable others provides the best available point of reference both for the definition of personality structure in general and for assessing someone's personality in particular. Self-judgments, as in personality questionnaires, are intrinsically deficient because judgment errors cannot be averaged out. The recommended procedure for assessing someone's personality is to give a personality questionnaire, phrased in the third person singular, to those who know the target best. This set may or may not include the target person as a judge.