What is nomothetic about “nomothetic” personality research?


Abstract
Were it one's purpose to set rolling in scornful impatience the eyes of those who currently animate the discipline of personality psychology, one could scarcely do better than to initiate some discussion of the so-called "nomothetic vs. idiographic" controversy, a dispute that has nagged the field for at least the past 50 years. The author has been persuaded that the need for such an analysis will prevail for just so long as it takes the legion but, alas, ersatz "nomotheticists' of personality psychology to finally get it right: The knowledge yielded by conventional' 'nomothetic' personality research has never been, is not now, and will never be nomothetic in any sense of the term to which a personality theorist would be compelled to bow. When all is said and done, it is only this dogma, as fallacious as it is resilient, that has nourished some six decades of "nomothetic" hegemony and, in the process, served repeatedly as the grounds for summarily banishing to their collective corner dispirited critics such as Allport . But while the intimidating hubris of psychometric sophisticates may heretofore have muted many who, in their alleged "romanticism" dared to challenge conventional "nomothetic" wisdom, such browbeating does not dispel ghosts—Teutonic or otherwise. There are certain essentially epistemological problems with which apologists for traditional "nomotheticism" simply must come to grips, and if prior critics of the dominant paradigm failed to articulate those problems adequately , then the struggle must be joined anew, because the problems are genuine and they are not just going to evaporate. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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DOI 10.1037/h0091429
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