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Taxonomic models of individual differences: A guide to transdisciplinary approaches

Taxonomic models of individual differences: A guide to transdisciplinary approaches

Uher, Jana ORCID: 0000-0003-2450-4943 (2018) Taxonomic models of individual differences: A guide to transdisciplinary approaches. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373 (1744). ISSN 0962-8436 (Print), 1471-2970 (Online) (doi:

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Models and constructs of individual differences are numerous and diverse. But detecting commonalities, differences and interrelations is hindered by the common abstract terms (e.g. ‘personality’, ‘temperament’, ‘traits’) that do not reveal the particular phenomena denoted. This article applies a transdisciplinary paradigm for research on individuals that builds on complexity theory and epistemological complementarity. Its philosophical, metatheoretical and methodological frameworks provide concepts to differentiate various kinds of phenomena (e.g. physiology, behaviour, psyche, language). They are used to scrutinize the field's basic concepts and to elaborate methodological foundations for taxonomizing individual variations in humans and other species. This guide to developing comprehensive and representative models explores the decisions taxonomists must make about which individual variations to include, which to retain and how to model them. Selection and reduction approaches from various disciplines are classified by their underlying rationales, pinpointing possibilities and limitations. Analyses highlight that individuals' complexity cannot be captured by one universal model. Instead, multiple models phenotypically taxonomizing different kinds of variability in different kinds of phenomena are needed to explore their causal and functional interrelations and ontogenetic development that are then modelled in integrative and explanatory taxonomies. This research agenda requires the expertise of many disciplines and is inherently transdisciplinary.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: personality; temperament; trait; structure; development; process; individual differences; character; complexity; epistemological complementarity; transdisciplinarity; psyche; physiology; behaviour; morphology; semiotic systems; methodology; metatheory; philosophy of science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
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Last Modified: 01 May 2020 14:54

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