SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

ABSTRACT Why should psychologists undertake psychobiographical inquiry? This article argues that our primary responsibility in this multidisciplinary field is that of developing basic personality theory An “invisible collaboration” is proposed, such that excellent biographical studies in neighboring disciplines provide basic data for our theoretical efforts The proposal is illustrated by analyzing two highly acclaimed works in terms of Tomkins's (1979) script theory Erlich's (1984) study of Nathaniel Hawthorne serves for the exploration of a nuclear script, and Kapp's (1972, 1976) two-volume biography of Eleanor Marx serves for the study of a commitment script Tomkins's theory offers new perspectives on these life histories and a sophisticated alternative to the psychoanalytic frameworks that dominate psychobiographical inquiry With more critical attention to theoretical issues, the development of psychobiographical work might rescue contemporary personality psychology from its method-bound stasis Tomkins's theory is advanced as a conceptual framework worthy of rigorous development in several areas of personality psychology