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The Theory of Individuality by Royce and Powell

The Theory of Individuality by Royce and Powell

March 1, 2021

The concept of "personality" has given rise to a great diversity of theories that try to explain what it is and how it can be measured and studied. Some authors have tried throughout the history to elaborate a theoretical model that allows to integrate the different existing theories with a general theory that explains the existence of individual differences.

One of the most ambitious proposals in this regard is the The individuality theory of Royce and Powell.

  • Related article: "The Theory of Personality proposed by Carl Rogers"

What is the theory of the individuality of Royce and Powell?

The theory of the individuality of Royce and Powell pretends to be an integrating theory of the different theories concerning the study of personality and individual differences . Specifically from the general theory of systems, factor analysis and experimental methodology.


This theory is based on the consideration that the behavior is not caused by a single factor but the origin of this is multiple (incorporating biological and social factors).

He also considers that personality is a stable construct over time, although it can vary throughout life or in different situations and is aimed at the achievement of goals and the search for personal meaning. Finally, it also starts from the idea that individual differences can be found in all the different areas of the psyche.

It is a model that considers that each person, although it can be compared with others by having all specific features, possesses them to a degree different from all others. in a way that makes him a unique individual . It is a general and introductory model, very ambitious, on which different investigations can be made.


  • Related article: "Differential Psychology: history, objectives and methods"

Personality within the model: what is it and what is it for?

The model proposed by the Individuality theory of Royce and Powell considers the personality in a generic way, as a systems organization that allow to translate, transform and integrate psychic information. This is detailed to a greater extent in the structure proposed by these authors.

Regarding its function, it is established that the main objective of the personality is to find meaning to the world and to the person, in a way that tries to make the reality more manageable.

The personality gives rise to different aspects such as emotions, beliefs, values, lifestyle, personal identity and how to conceptualize reality.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Differences between personality, temperament and character"

A structure in three large systems

The theory of the individuality of Royce and Powell stipulates that within the personality can be found six systems organized in a hierarchical way, which can be grouped into three categories according to their function and complexity. These categories allow divide them into translators, transformers and integrators systems . The different systems are acquired throughout the development, starting with the translators to generate as the rest grows.


1. Translator systems

The concept of translator system of the theory of the individuality of Royce and Powell refers to all those components of the person that allow, as the name suggests, translate the stimulation so that the internal pass to the outside and the outside to the inside.

Within these systems are the sensory system and the motor system . In both, temporality and spatiality can be found in the form of a subsystem, so that a process of sequential and simultaneous translation is made.

Sensory system

Refers to the set of elements that allows capture the external reality so that external information can be processed by other systems.

Motor system

On this occasion, the motor system refers to the set of processes that allow energy to pass to act . That is to say, the motor system is the one in charge of making the movement.

2. Transformer systems

The transforming systems are those that are in charge of processing the information obtained or directed by or to the translating systems. Between the transforming systems they emphasize the cognitive system and the affective system.

Cognitive system

The cognitive system is that whose main function is to transform and work the information coming from the environment in such a way that contribute to make us understand the environment .

Within it we can observe as subsystems the perception or mechanism by which we manipulate the information coming from the outside, the conceptualization (equivalent to the intelligence in this model) as the way in which concepts are formed from the transformation of the data into verbal and abstract material and the extraction of information on the relationships between elements, and the symbolization or creation of metaphorical constructs based on said data.

Affective system

The affective system is one of those that best allows to see the influence of other theories of the personality in the theory of individuality of Royce and Powell. This system transforms the information captured from the outside in a way that produces alterations in the level of mental and physical activation . It is made up of the subsystems of emotional stability, emotional independence and extraversion-introversion.

3. Integrating systems

The third and most important element when explaining behavior and individual differences is the group of integrating systems, whose main function is that of direct how the information will be processed and what this will mean in the previous systems. Within the integrating systems are the style and value systems.

Style system

The main function of the style system is to determine how the information will be processed, directly affecting the transformer systems in a way that affects the vision we have of the world and the kind of affectivity that we have.

The style system has in turn three subsystems: the empirical one that is in charge of aspects such as cognitive reliability and extraversion introversion at the cognitive level, the rational one in which cognitive level allows conceptualization while maintaining independence at the level emotional, and the metaphorical one in which symbolization and emotional stability are allowed.

Value system

The value system directs the beliefs of people and their motivations , providing interests and needs. Within the value system we can find three major subsystems: the ego, the social and the intrinsic.

The ego system is the one that regulates self-preservation and identity, as well as the behavior patterns that we usually use. It is linked to emotional stability and the symbolization capacity . The social system is responsible for the procedures that define the type of interaction we maintain with others and the perception of them. Finally, the intrinsic system is linked to motivation and goal orientation, allowing the generation of concepts and our independence.

Bibliographic references:

  • Hernangómez, L. and Fernández, C. (2012). Psychology of personality and differential. CEDE Preparation Manual PIR, 07. CEDE: Madrid.
  • Bermúdez, J. (2004). Psychology of the Personality. Theory and research (Vols. I and II). Didactic Unit of the UNED. Madrid.

Alan Watts ~ The Art Of Dealing With Pain (March 2021).


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