Dr Jana Uher       



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The Transdisciplinary Philosophy-of-Science Paradigm for Research on Individuals (TPS Paradigm)

TPS Paradigm
Research on individuals

Research on individual-specificity - "personality"

Basic concepts and definitions
Individual-specific variants versus pertinent social beliefs
Comparative research methodologies
The role of impression formation and 'personality' attribution in human evolution

Empirical applications in humans and other species

Research on individual-specificity - "personality"

Basic concepts and definitions

The TPS Paradigm explores basic epistemological issues of research on individuals and their individuality, such as the old scientific dictum scientia non est individuorum, the fundamental idea that science seeks regularities and lawfulness through abstraction and generalisation and thus, cannot be devoted to exploring individual cases.

A central topic is personality, which can be metatheoretically defined as individual-specificity in various kinds of phenomena, such as behaviour, experience, physiology and morphology. Individual-specific morphology (e.g., physique and physiognomy) can be easily identified because these phenomena change so slowly. But individuals’ behaviour and experiencing change from moment to moment, making the direct recognition of patterns that are specific to a given individual impossible. This requires special methodologies (see Comparative research methodologies).

Publications: Uher (2011a,b, 2013, 2015a,b).

Individual-specific variants versus pertinent social beliefs

An important differentiation is made in the TPS Paradigm between individual-specific variations in and of themselves and the social beliefs, ideas and values that humans in different sociocultural communities develop, propagate and maintain about such variations - their pertinent semiotic representations. This explicit differentiation is essential because social belief systems influence people's everyday practices - such as their judgements and social categorisations of individuals. But these belief systems need not adequately reflect how individuals actually behave, think and feel in everyday life (see Observations versus Assessments). 

Publications: Uher (2013, 2014, 2015a,b,c)

Comparative research methodologies

The TPS Paradigm provides elaborated methodologies for identifying individual-specificity in momentary and fluctuating phenomena, such as behaviour and experiencing. It therefore introduces the concept of time-relative probabilities that allow ratio-scaled data of such phenomena to be generated and absolute comparisons between individuals to be made.

In order to enable systematic contrasts, the TPS Paradigm comprises novel methodologies for comparing individuals across situations, groups and species that were derived from systematically expanding methodologies from cross-cultural psychology to cross-species psychology using the paradigm's metatheoretical and methodological foundations.

Systematic comparisons presuppose methodological approaches that allow for taxonomising individual differences systematically, while minimising biasing influences from the researchers' preconceived ideas (e.g., existing models). The TPS Paradigm elaborated the selection and reduction rationales underlying previous taxonomic approaches used in various fields. It complements the existing approaches by a novel approach that allows for systematic categorisations of individual-specific behaviours, the Behavioural Repertoire x Behavioural Situations Approach (BRxBS-Approach).

Publications: Uher (2008a,b, 2011a,b, 2013, 2015b,e).

The role of impression formation and 'personality' attribution in human evolution

The socio-cognitive abilities of humans to quickly form impressions of other individuals and to develop social category systems and a pertinent everyday vocabulary could have been of enormous importance in human evolution: Such abilities enabled our ancestors to trade with unknown individuals of foreign cultures. 

The ability to recognise individual-specific behaviours in some other species, especially mammals, was fundamental for another key development in recent human history: the domestication of animals.

Publications: Uher  2013); Uher, Werner & Gosselt (2013).