Integrating personality structure, personality process, and personality development

Anna Baumert, Manfred Schmitt, Marco Perugini, Wendy Johnson, Gabriela Blum, Peter Borkenau, Giulio Constantini, Jaap Denissen, William Fleeson, Ben Grafton, Eranda Jayawickreme, E. Kruzius, Colin MacLeod, Lynn Miller, Steven Read, Michael Robinson, Brent Roberts, Dustin Wood, Cornelia Wrzus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this target article, we argue that personality processes, personality structure, and personality development have to be understood and investigated in integrated ways in order to provide comprehensive responses to the key questions of personality psychology. The psychological processes and mechanisms that explain concrete behavior in concrete situations should provide explanation for patterns of variation across situations and individuals, for development over time as well as for structures observed in intra- and inter-individual differences. Personality structures, defined as patterns of covariation in behavior, including thoughts and feelings, are results of those processes in transaction with situational affordances and regularities. It cannot be presupposed that processes are organized in ways that directly correspond to the observed structure. Rather, it is an empirical question whether shared sets of processes are uniquely involved in shaping correlated behaviors, but not uncorrelated behaviors (what we term ‘correspondence’ throughout this paper) or whether more complex interactions of processes give rise to population level patterns of covariation (termed ‘emergence’). The paper is organized in three parts, with Part I providing the main arguments, Part II reviewing some of the past approaches at (partial) integration, and Part III outlining conclusions of how future personality psychology should progress toward complete integration. Working definitions for the central terms are provided in the appendix.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-528
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number5
Early online date25 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2017


  • causal process
  • structure
  • development
  • personality
  • traits
  • explanation
  • emergence
  • learning
  • information processing
  • affect
  • motivation
  • self-regulation
  • network approach
  • self-reflection
  • functional approach


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