9 1 discussion unified theory

Think about all the theories you have studied in the course. What is your opinion on whether a unified theory of personality is possible? Do you think such a theory would improve the field? Do you have any research that supports your argument?

In your responses to at least two other students, briefly state your position and discuss similarities and differences in your responses. Does the peer’s response reinforce your position? Does the peer’s response have you consider a different position?

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document.



I think that a unified theory of personality can be possible and beneficial in so many ways. A one-size-fit-all theory won’t work for everyone but it can definitely be helpful for some. If we don’t try a unified theory how will we ever know if they are beneficial or not?

Dweck (2017) aims to integrate motivation, personality and much of development under one umbrella to help psychologists address big social problems in a more informed, systematic and integrated way. She feels that providing a new prospective on development, especially on the forces that propel development and the roles of nature and nurture (Dweck, 2017). Her proposed theory seeks to integrate modern approaches to basic human needs, human motivation, personality and social-personality development. She believes it will help us deepen our understanding of human functioning. Motivation, personality and development belong together (Dweck, 2017). After all, motivation is about why people, think, feel and act the way they do a given time; personality is about how and why people differ from each other in their characteristic modes of thinking, feeling, and acting; development is about how these different ways of thinking, feeling and development are all integrated in many classic theories (Dweck, 2017, p 690). So a unified theory of personality can be possible as well as beneficial.


Dweck, C.S. (2017). From needs to goals and representations: Foundations for a unified theory of motivation, personality, and development. Psychological Review, 124(6), 689-719. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rev0000082.


I do think that a unified theory of personality is possible, but I cannot say whether it would be wholly useful to the field. It is likely that it would eliminate at least one aspect of personality. If that is the case, is it really a unified theory?

I mentioned Whole Trait Theory in another of my posts and in my paper, but it is a relatively new theory (2015) that works to combine the social-cognitive approach to personality with the trait approach, considering them to be two sides of the same coin. It suggests that traits have two parts: an explanatory part (which allows for social-cognitive explanations of traits) and a descriptive part (which is basically a density distribution of states, so we can see an average of a trait in different aspects of life) (Fleeson & Jayawickreme, 2015). Whole Trait Theory allows for variation in behavior, because people act differently in different situations – a realization that Walter Mischel and Yuichi Shoda came to when they developed their CAPS theory (Mischel & Shoda, 1995).

While searching for the Whole Trait Theory article that I’ve been using (I’m writing this from my desktop at work, as I don’t have my personal laptop with me), I came across a new (2019) article which attempts to integrate Whole Trait Theory and Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory. The article discusses theoretical links between the two and provides some empirical evidence supporting their idea. Being so new, additional research will be needed before a new theory is formally proposed. The authors argue that this will improve the field by combining trait explanations and motivational explanations for behavior and personality (Prentice, Jayawickreme, & Fleeson). As I discussed above, a wholly unified theory is likely to skip over some aspect of personality that is explained in another theory. Sometimes, the most obvious choice is the correct answer. I do think that other avenues should be explored though; we may come across a better idea that fits even better than what we use today!


Fleeson, W., & Jayawickreme, E. (2015). Whole Trait Theory. Journal of Research in Personality, 56, 82–92. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1016/j.jrp.2014.10.009

Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y. (1995). A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: Reconceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure. Psychological Review, 102(2), 246–268. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1037/0033-295X.102.2.246

Prentice, M., Jayawickreme, E., & Fleeson, W. (n.d.). Integrating whole trait theory and self-determination theory. JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY, 87(1), 56–69. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1111/jopy.12417


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