Gordon Willard Allport

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Allport, Gordon Willard


Born Nov. 11, 1897, in Montezuma, Ind., died Oct. 9, 1967, in Cambridge, Mass. American psychologist.

In 1919, Allport graduated from Harvard University, where he subsequently taught psychology, becoming a professor in 1942. He was editor of the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology from 1937 to 1949. Allport’s general concept of personality was opposed to the psychoanalytic and behavioristic viewpoints, as well as to W. MacDougall’s hormic psychology.

Personality, according to Allport, is a dynamic aggregation within the individual of special motivational systems (seeMOTIVES), habits, attitudes, and individual personality traits, all of which participate in the formation of every individual’s unique interaction with the environment—especially the social environment. New motives develop out of—but function independently of—old motives. Allport does not consider a person’s past history to be the source of behavior; rather, an individual’s behavior is determined by his present and future and by higher conscious motives that are of a relatively later origin in the lifespan. These motives subordinate primitive impulses and form the core of the personality. Allport views the present condition of a given individual’s personality in terms of future potential; an active personality strives to realize this potential.

While acknowledging that personality is a phenomenon that emerges from a system of sociocultural ties, Allport fails to give a substantive analysis of the concrete societal and historical conditions amid which personality develops.


Personality. London, 1949.
The Nature of Prejudice. Garden City, N.Y. [1958].
The Individual and His Religion: A Psychological Interpretation. New York, 1960.
Pattern and Growth of Personality. New York, 1961.
Psychology of Rumor. New York, 1965. (With L. Postman.)
Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality. New Haven-London, 1967.


Antsyferova, L. I. “Psikhologiia lichnosti kak ‘otkrytoi sistemy’.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1970, no. 5. Hall, C. S., and G. Lindzey. Theories of Personality. New York-London, 1957.


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Gordon Allport, character, and the "culture of personality', 1897-1937.
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It was built around a series of four lectures by Professor Gordon Allport of Harvard.
In 1954 Gordon Allport observed that "The role of religion is paradoxical.
Nothing in life seems more natural than the ease with which humans assert superiority over a collective Other; as Gordon Allport put it in his 1967 study The Nature of Prejudice, the "easiest idea to sell anyone is that he is better than someone else.
The first is a heavy credential, if not a trustworthy one: I have spent many years exploring and analyzing life narratives, beginning with a study of the autobiographies of refugees who had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, (Allport, Bruner and Jandorf 1941) (I had the great fortune of assisting Gordon Allport in this work.
Such is the case with Gordon Allport in his classic study of religious psychology, The Individual and His Religion.
railroad psychology), and assorted theoretical twists and turns: 'Most of the founders of [Work & Organizational] psychology in Eastern Europe have been students of Wilhelm Wundt or have worked with Henri Pieron, Alfred Binet, Charles Spearman, Gordon Allport, and others.
Psychologist Gordon Allport described the phenomenon of concentric circles around the self, beginning with the family; extending to racial, ethnic, and religious compatriots; and then to members of the community or country.
The study of mysticism and conversion rest on a foundation of William James' (1902) pragmatic approach, and the study of prejudice or prosocial religious effects harkens to the classic work of Gordon Allport (1950, 1954, etc).