-- AN  ONLINE  PUBLICATION --



                        Sergey V. Golubkov


     The notion of personality in psychology is different 
from other important psychological notions such as 
perception, behavior, motivation, emotions, etc. This 
difference is a result of the fact that personality 
manifests itself as a category reflecting a special 
quality that an individual acquires within the system 
of social relations (Leontiev 1975). Its peculiarity 
consists in that it is the zone of encounter of various 
psychological fields and, thus, it integrates within 
itself various subcategories. The building of a working 
model of the object of reality ‹ personality theory ‹ is 
a task proportional to its complexity. However, the 
significance of building such models that allow to 
explain and predict happening to a man (Hjelle & Ziegler 
1992) is also great because in everyday life we do not 
deal with perception, thought, speech or drives separately, 
but with whole personalities - one's own and others'.
     At the same time, the situation of building personality 
theory in psychology resembles the one described in the 
story about the blind men and an elephant: once having met an 
elephant they try to tell other people about it. One of them 
had examined the elephant's ear and said that the elephant was 
like a carpet, another one had faced its trunk and compared the 
animal to a flexible tube, and the third one having touched its 
leg claimed that the elephant was mighty and firm as a column ‹ 
as a result, though each one of them was sure to know something 
about the elephant, all of them were equally away from the truth. 
The situation of personality research in psychology is like the 
one in this story in a way because every researcher for this or 
that reason pays attention to a specific part of the whole 
personality and assumes it to be the whole.

     At present there are two basic approaches to personality 
description and building its model: literary and psychological or, 
in a wider sense, the method of arts and the one of science 
(Allport 1968). Each of them has its own merits and drawbacks. 
For instance, the first descriptive method captures an 
integral, consistent picture of personality, even though it 
is subjective. The second one often represents personality 
as a set of objective facts which, however, are sometimes 
hard to put together to form an integral picture. In other 
words, we believe that there is a certain contradiction 
between the integrity of a personality image in a theory and 
the degree of its scientific verifiability: the more integral
the object in a personality theory, the less it is a 
"scientific" theory and visa versa. Thus, the personality 
theories, mainly by S. Freud, C. Jung and C. Rogers, in 
our opinion, present themselves as the most integral; at 
the same time these very same theories are no well 
scientifically verified (which does not prevent them from 
being successfully employed in psychological practice). 
The contrary position might be taken by theories such
as of B. Skinner, R. Cattell or J. Rotter. Therefore, the 
following question comes up here: can we unify the two 
methods to acquire by this a more holistic "grasp" of 
the object of social reality on one hand, and describe 
it scientifically on the other hand?


     As we see it, there is such an opportunity and it 
opens up once we refer to human language as the reflection 
of human consciousness (mind). In this particular case, 
language is understood not as the environment determining 
the consciousness contents as in the Sapir-Whorf 
linguistic relativity hypothesis, but it is viewed 
as the reflection of human practice. As is known, there 
is a clear correlation between the diversity of activities 
and the complexity of the language serving these activities 
(Prudkov 1999). To put it otherwise, the language system 
reflects and collects within itself the "multicenturied" 
experience of of people in the process of their social 
activity (Apresyan 1995) and, consequently, it can serve 
as a reliable guide to the sphere of human interaction 
with the objective reality.

     There is an integral model of reality imprinted 
in the language, the one that coincides with the 
real-life activities of people and, thus, it has 
been "naturally verified" to be true to actual experience. 
The model of reality is traditionally called "primitive";
that, however, does not not mean that it is incorrect, 
but of non-scientific origin. Alternatively, scientific 
models are often built as a result of transcending such 
a natural order of things by means of specially 
thought-out experiments and specially designed 
instruments, but people in their everyday life unconsciously 
do not use them, rather they continue using the metaphorical 
primitive models and schemes (Lakoff & Johnson 1980). 
Returning to the metaphor about the blind and the 
elephant, we may state that if the blind men were 
numerous enough and if they kept on researching 
the elephant for ages, they would, no doubt, 
come up with a true impression of the animal.

     Through linguistic reconstruction we can approach 
the restoration of a whole and, at the same time 
discover in it an ontological niches hierarchy that 
man is not aware of in the routine of the day 
(Feuodorov 1995). But our task is not so global 
as we are only interested in the model of just one 
side of reality ‹ personality. Because the system 
quality of an individual is objectively manifested 
within social relations, personality must also have 
its imprint in the system of language. Its linguistic 
reconstruction can yield a fairly objective and, what 
is more, a useful personality representation.

     It is no accident that we speak specifically 
about personality model reconstruction and not about 
personality theory. The latter notion is much broader
in meaning. Apart from representations of the basic 
components of personality and their interrelations, 
a personality theory as a minimal requirement must 
be able to explain the logic of personality development, 
its change with time and, further, the issues of 
pathological and healthy personality and his/her 
psychotherapy (Hjelle & Ziegler 1992). Hence, restoring 
the model from the language system allows us to use it 
as the basis to build a personality theory.

     Our language model of personality reconstruction 
includes three main stages. The first one is the 
research and use of contemporary data such as on 
primitive psychology, the language personality model 
in linguistics and ethnology. The second one consists 
of discovering the immanent "systemity" of the data 
and restoring an internally consistent personality 
model applicable to the sphere of psychological practice. 
And, third, testing the resulting model for its psychological 
validity is called for. Fortunately, today there is a great 
number of works devoted to the reality reflection by 
language (Weirzbicka 1992; Zaliznyak 1992; Soukalenko 
1992; Likhachev 1993; Dmitrovskaya 1988; Apresyan 1995), 
that we can employ instead of conducting a lexicographical 
investigation for the semantic primitives of human image
ourselves. As the base primitives, we will use the those
by U. D. Apresyan (1995, 355) who has outlined such 
components in the primitive image of human being as 
perception (sight, hearing, sensations of smell, taste 
and touch), physiological states (hunger, thirst, need, 
pain), physiological reactions (to pale, to quiver, 
to give the creeps, to flush, to get hot, to sweat), 
bodily actions (to work, to go, to stand, to lay, 
to throw), wishes (to wish, to strive, to tempt, 
to prefer, to intend), intellect (to think, to recall, 
to imagine, to be aware, to understand), feelings (fear, 
to rejoice, to love, to hate, despair), and speech (to 
inform, to promise, to ask, to demand, to order, to 

     With this list, we can proceed to the next 
stage of reconstructing the language model of 
personality ‹ clarifying the components' interrelations 
and their immanent systemity. U. D. Apresyan (1995, 364) 
divides the components into those related mainly to 
the human body activity and those related to the 
activity of human mind. Both categories (body, mind)
each possess four components of the language image 
of an individual so that the whole set of them can 
be represented as a system of four binary oppositions:

     perceptions ‹ intellect
     physiological states (needs) ‹ intentions
     physiological reactions (emotions) ‹ feelings
     bodily actions ‹ speech actions

     We have come to the conclusion that the 
componentsΠsystem contains some other types of 
regularities and they -- like the "body-mind" 
rule -- form in a natural way four other binary 
oppositions. There are two additional types of 
regularities in the system that can be denoted 
as "intra-interpersonal activity" and "objectivity-
subjectivity". The oppositions formed according the 
first of them are the following:

  intellect ‹ speech
  perceptions ‹ bodily actions
  intentions, wishes ‹ feelings
  physiological states (needs) ‹ physiological reactions (emotions)

The second type of relations between components ‹ 
"objectivity-subjectivity" ‹ results in the following pairs:

     intellect ‹ intentions
     speech ‹ feelings
     perceptions ‹ needs
     bodily actions ‹ emotional reactions

In summary, we can speak about a three-dimensional personality 
model that can be presented in the following table:

             INTRAPERSONAL                   INTERPERSONAL
MIND  intellect           intentions      feelings      speech
BODY  perceptions           needs         emotions      actions
      OBJECTIVE                 SUBJECTIVE             OBJECTIVE

     Another important step in the language personality 
model reconstruction is to verify its psychological 
validity (its reliability has already been ascertained 
by "multicenturied" daily use): it is important that the 
model reflects precisely the object that it claims to 
reflect ‹ personality. This can be done by fitting 
widely used models of personality to the language model. 
In contemporary personology there are quite few 
personality theories that have clearly outlined a 
structural basis, particularly the theories by 
S. Freud and C. Jung. The authors not only highlight 
the main constituent parts of personality but also 
point to the regularities in their relations. 

     The personality structure by S. Freud (1961) 
includes three instances ‹ the id, the ego and the 
super-ego. The id represents a "chaotic cauldron" of 
mobile energy; it may be considered as the primitive, 
instinctual and biological aspects of personality that 
can be characterized by impulsiveness and irrationality, 
and it functions according to the pleasure principle. 
The super-ego, on the contrary, represents the system 
of internalized social rules, values and behavioral 
standards. The ego first becomes the regulating instance 
that functions by the reality principle and it facilitates 
satisfaction of the id's needs in the real world by adapting
the id's wild nature, firstly, with the requirements of 
objective reality and, secondly, with the super-ego's ones. 
Now let us compare the structural model under consideration 
with the language personality model in the following table 
showing that the former, having less differentiated 
components, can rather peacefully find its place within the 
categorial space of the latter one:

                       ?                       ?
SECONDARY    the ego         the super-ego           the ego
PRIMARY      the ego             the id              the ego
             REALITY            PLEASURE             REALITY

     The personality structure by C. Jung (1969) is even more 
detailed. It includes four psychic function types ‹ thought, 
feeling, sensation and intuition ‹ each of which is directed 
both to the external (extroversion) and the internal reality 
(introversion). As a result, thought is employed to build up 
rational statements as well as for argument. Feeling 
represents the function that is employed both to evaluate 
and express judgement. Sensation is responsible both for 
rational, realistic perception of the external reality and 
acting in it. And intuition ‹ for delicate listening to 
the internal reality and its regulation. Now let us compare 
Jung's understanding of personality structure with the 
language model in the following table:

                     INTROVERSION           EXTROVERSION
RATIONALITY     thought      feeling      feeling     thought
IRRATIONALITY   sensation  intuition      intuition  sensation
                  ?                     ?                      ?

     As an example of less differentiated personality 
structures we can look at models by C. Rogers, J. Kelly, 
A. Bandura, J. Rotter, A. Maslow, B. Skinner, G. Allport, 
G. Eysenck and many others. In J. Kelly's model, for instance, 
personality is a system of bipolar and dichotomic constructs 
that in fact are not the components of the system's structure - 
rather they are the relating principles between whatever its 
components. The conceptions by B. Skinner and A. Bandura use 
the "internal-external" dichotomy, A. Maslow in his personality 
model outlines the two main components ‹ physiological and 
growth needs. R. Cattell describes personality with the help 
of his 16-factor model as a result of which, in our opinion, 
personality loses its internal integral character. In the 
model by C. Rogers (1961) one can find such structural 
elements as perception, ideal self, organismic valuing 
process and interaction with others. G. Eysenck
(1970) describes personality  in three orthogonal dimensions 
without pointing out any structural components: "introversion - 
extroversion", "super-ego strength - psychotism", 
"stability - instability".

     Concludingly, we state that the language personality 
model's validity can be confirmed to a great extent 
because the model manifests itself mostly as the 
metamodel for the "rest", finding room for them within 
its boundaries without any substantial contradictions. 
Among the rare exceptions there might be the models by 
R. Cattell and J. Kelly, both of which hardly fit the 
language personality model. 


     In conclusion let us pay attention to the potentials
of the language personality model. First of all, as we 
have said before, it provides an opportunity to build on 
its basis a personality theory adequate to the everyday 
practice of human interaction. The language personality 
theory might be the subject of a special article, here 
we can only focus on a series of questions that remain 
to be answered to build such a theory:

a) What are the logic and stages of the language personality 
   structure forming and changing with time?
b) What are the determinants of its changes?
c) How with the help of the model can a healthy and pathological 
   personality be described?
d) How from the model's viewpoint can a therapeutical process 
   be understood and explained?

     Other potentials pertain to psychological counseling 
and psychotherapy. A therapist, adhering to a particular 
approach, has to use a certain model of personality in his/
her work, which results in the following: first, the 
therapist sooner or later finds him/herself within the 
system of ideas of that same approach, second, he/she begins 
to see him/herself and the clients in terms of that approach's 
personality model and, third, consciously or not he/she 
"converts" the clients into the same understanding of man
in an overgeneralized way. The conscious use of the language 
personality model in psychotherapeutic practice allows to 
guide the process of human interaction in a more natural


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Sergey V. Golubkov is research assistant at the Research Center for 
Communicative Foreign Languages Teaching at Lipetsk  Teachers' Training 
State Institute, Russia. He also works as a counseling psychologist 
at the local psycho-counseling service "Dialogue". His major research
interests include counseling and developmental psychology and,
in particular, the process of personality changes through interpersonal
communication and speech interaction.
His email address is s_golubkov@mail.ru