Gordon Willard Allport

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.