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Piotrowski, Z.A. (1946). Linton, Ralph. The Cultural Background of Personality. [New York and London: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1945. Pp. XIX + 157. $1.50.. Psychoanal. Rev., 33(3):384-385.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Review, 33(3):384-385

Linton, Ralph. The Cultural Background of Personality. [New York and London: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1945. Pp. XIX + 157. $1.50.

Review by:
Z. A. Piotrowski

The purpose of this slender volume by a Columbia University professor of anthropology is to define the basic terms, to present the main generalizations well supported by wide and varied empirical data, and to formulate some important and unsolved problems of a new science. This new science is devoted to the dynamics of human behavior and has developed through the collaboration of various disciplines, notably anthropology, sociology and psychology (including psychoanalysis). The book is designed to facilitate the collaboration, by clarifying the concepts and issues. The point is made that none of the specific scientific disciplines is sufficient to solve the problems inherent in a study of the cultural background of personality. This point is documented by well chosen examples taken from experience. The author has achieved his purpose admirably. The book is written very clearly and concisely.

The definitions have been formulated to facilitate orientation and creative work in the new science, emerging from the use of various scientific techniques, developed independently of one another. Linton's clear and penetrating work eliminates many spurious disagreements and pseudo-problems. In his attempt the author “tried to follow the democratic principle of majority rule, basing my definitions and explanations upon those meanings on which there seems to be general agreement and ignoring minority usages…. The attempt has been to provide a sort of lingua franca or trade language on the basis of which the simpler ideas and factual knowledge of the three disciplines can be exchanged.”

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