Tag Archives: Personality

NEW RESEARCH: Personality Dynamics, Motivation, & the Logic of Explanation

Boag, S. (2018). Personality dynamics, motivation, and the logic of explanation. Review of General Psychology. Online preprint. Please contact me if you would like a copy.


Dynamic personality approaches provide an important step forward for twenty-first century personality theories because they promise greater explanatory power compared with latent trait approaches. Nevertheless , whether dynamic personality theories satisfactorily address motivated action remains unclear. To address this, this article discusses the logic of explanation and problems with latent trait approaches in terms of circularity and reification. The article then assesses explanation within dynamic personality accounts and the putative role of motivation. While dynamic personality approaches avoid many of the problems associated with latent trait accounts, a satisfactory account of motivational systems and “human nature” is currently missing. Suggestions for addressing the dynamics of human nature in terms of criteria for motivational systems are discussed. Attachment theory is offered as one possible foundation for addressing the motivational dynamics of personality.

NEW RESEARCH: On dreams & motivation: comparison of Freud’s & Hobson’s views

Boag, S. (2017). On dreams & motivation: comparison of Freud’s & Hobson’s Views. Front. Psychol. 7:2001. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02001


The merits of Freudian dream theory continue to be debated and both supporters and critics appeal to empirical evidence to support their respective positions. What receives much less attention is the theoretical coherency of either Freudian dream theory or alternative perspectives. This paper examines Freudian dream theory and J. Allan Hobson’s alternative position by addressing the role of motivation in dreams. This paper first discusses motivation in Freudian theory and its relation to dreams and disguise-censorship. The role of motivation in Hobson’s theory is then considered. Hobson’s claim that dream plot and content selection is random and based on design error and functional imbalance is then discussed in relation to the protoconsciousness theory proposal that dreams serve an adaptive function. While there are apparent inconsistencies in Hobson’s position, his appeal to emotions and instincts provides a preliminary platform for understanding the role of motivation in dreams that is consonant with the Freudian position.

NEW RESEARCH: Personality assessment, ‘construct validity’, and the significance of theory

Boag, S. (2015). Personality assessment, ‘construct validity’, and the significance of theory. Personality & Individual Differences, 84, 36-44. Download here: Boag 2015


Personality assessment helps us to predict how people behave under various circumstances or how well a person might perform within certain roles. However, there are reasons to question the supposed ‘construct validity’ of tests designed to assess various personality attributes including dispositional traits. To demonstrate this, the paper first discusses a realist account of test validity where validity requires that both the attribute exist and that changes in the attribute are causally related to changes in test scores. The paper demonstrates that the validity for tests of dispositional traits is questionable given conceptual problems with traits existing as within-person attributes capable of causing changes in test scores. The widespread reliance on Likert-style response formats is then discussed in relation to the assumed quantitative structure of personality attributes. Based on a realist view of measurement, the uncritical adoption of a representational theory of measurement within personality research means that the validity of all personality tests claiming to ‘measure’ personality attributes is questionable. Suggestions for addressing test validity in personality assessment are then discussed in terms of paying greater critical attention to personality theory itself and adopting a realist theory of assessment and measurement.