Current Status of the Field
Domains of Knowledge: Where We've Been, Where We're Going
Integration: Personality in the New Millennium
fter having read the first 19 chapters of this book, you should b able to provide answers the next time someone asks, "Why does that person behave in such a way?" Why do the things people do sometimes seem like a mystery . Personality psychology seeks to open this mystery to scientific investigation. If yo are fascinated by the variety of human behavior , by the clever or silly things that people do, by the ways people solve or create problems for themselves, or by the variety of potential explanations for people' s behavior, then you have something in common with personality psychologists—a deep curiosity about human nature.
Although understanding the whole of human nature may seem like an impossible mission, this is the ultimate goal of personality psychology . Personality psychologists are motivated to understand the whole of personality . However, understanding the whole may be nearly impossible. Psychologist Charles Carver (1996) said that "personality is a topic that' s just too lar ge to hold in the mind at once" (p. 330). When confronted with a lar ge and difficult task, it is sometimes useful t partition the task into smaller , more manageable domains. This is the approach taken by modern medical science. Medical researchers specialize—there are dermatologists who focus on the skin, heart specialists, lung specialists, and so on. This is the approach we have taken in this book, based on the assumption that progress can be made in understanding human personality by focusing on each of the major domains of functioning. Clearly, these domains of functioning are linked with one another, just as there are important connections between the heart and the
Understanding the whole | behind all the parts is the ultimate goal of personality psychology.
skin (e.g., the heart pumps blood that nourishes skin cells). A full understanding of human personality will eventually require not merely understanding each domain of functioning, but also the ways in which the domains are connected and integrated with each other to form the whole functioning person.
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