The concept of personality in 19th-century French and 20th-century American psychology

Hist Psychol. 2003 May;6(2):123-42. doi: 10.1037/1093-4510.6.2.123.


Since the 1920s, the road to the acknowledgement of personality psychology as a field of scientific psychology that has individuality as its object began with the founding of the discipline by Gordon W. Allport. Historians of psychology have made serious attempts to reconstruct the cultural, political, institutional, and chronological beginnings of this field in America in the 20th century. In this literature, however, an important European tradition of psychological studies of personality that developed in France in the 2nd half of the 19th century has been overlooked. The aim of this article is to cast some light on this unexplored tradition of psychological personality studies and to discuss its influence on the development of the scientific study of personality in the United States.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • France
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Personality / physiology*
  • Psychology / history*
  • United States