Early recollections as reflectors of personality traits

In his theory of the individual "life style" Alfred Adler considered early recollections (ERs) invaluable in determining the characteristics of a person is style of life. The purposes of the present study were two-fold: (1) to demonstrate the close resemblance between characteristics revealed by ERs and their reflection in standard written tests for the same traits, and (2) to indicate that ERs can be reliably scored by persons without specific training in Adlerian psychotherapy. Fifty subjects were asked to write a description of their earliest recollections. The following scales were then administered: the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, Gorsuch & Lushene, 1970), the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crowne-Marlowe, 1960), and the Internal-External Locus of Control Scale (Rotter, 1966). Raters rated the ERs according to scales designed to correspond to the written inventories. Results supported the hypotheses that memories can be reliably scored by raters without expertise in Adlerian theory. Ratings of anxiety associated with the mother and school memories correlated significantly with the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, while no significant correlation was found between ERs and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale and the Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control Scale. These results would suggest that ERs can best be employed in conjunction with other clinical tools in order to determine general personality traits.