Amalgamation of Approaches

Allport provided theoretical and research alternatives at a time when a variety of competing approaches, including humanistic, psychoanalytic, and behavioral perspectives, were seeking preeminence in psychology. Allport found many existing theories to be limiting, overly narrow, and inadequate for describing the wide variations in human personality. As a result, he proposed an eclectic approach to theory that combined the strengths of various other perspectives. Instead of emphasizing a single approach, Allport thought that personality can be both growth-oriented and proactive, as well as reactive and based on instinctual processes. Through an eclectic approach, he hoped that the understanding of personality would become more complete.

Allportwas also concerned that many of the existing theories of his time, especially psychoanalytic theories, virtually ignored the healthy personality. In contrast to Sigmund Freud, Allport strongly emphasized conscious aspects of personality and believed that healthy adults are generally aware of their motivations. Unlike Freud's notion that people are motivated to reduce the tension of instinctual drives, he believed that people seek the kind of tension that allows them to grow, develop goals, and act in innovative ways.

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