A dynamic theory of personality and emotions
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This dissertation presents a dynamic theory of personality and emotions. The theory offered is explicit in its incorporation of an evolutionary-functionalist perspective and suggests that personality and the emotions are dynamic within the limits imposed by the functions of each. The dissertation begins by discussing the ubiquity of goals and goal-organising constructs in living systems. Personality, it is argued, is most validly conceptualised as being a complex goal-organising construct. Specific attention is then given to the consideration of innate motives in a motivational model of personality, the process by which innate motives become representational goals the place of emotions in the elaboration of innate motives, and the place of consciousness in goal, developmental and emotion processes. Following this, a functional conceptualisation of emotions and conscious emotional experience consistent with the motivational model of personality is developed. Empirical attention is devoted to the relationships between goals and emotions, the nature and measurement of conscious emotional experience, and the place of emotion in generating adaptive behaviour. Overall, the dissertation suggests that emotions and personality are necessarily related phenomena, each contributing to, and reflecting the other in the process of human striving.