Trait Theory Of Personality

The Trait Theory of Personality uses traits as a means of studying personality. Traits are long standing patterns of behavior that are typically used to identify a person. This approach identifies personality traits and measures individuals on how much of each trait they display. Traits are usually measured on a spectrum.

Gordon Allport was the first psychologist to use a trait approach to study personality. He identified 4,000 traits in 1936 and divided them into three categories: central traits, secondary traits, and cardinal traits. Central traits dominate a person's behavior and personality. Secondary traits are not as important to a person's identity and can be situational by only occurring occasionally (like being afraid of heights). A cardinal trait is one central trait that becomes dominant to a person's personality.

Cattell continued the trait approach and narrowed down Allport's traits to 16.

Eysenck identified three trait domains: introversion/extroversion, neuroticism/emotional stability, and psychoticism. A current approach to trait theory is the Big 5 personality trait theory which breaks down personality into five traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, aggreableness, and neuroticism. An advantage of trait theory is that it is objective because it uses statistical data. A disadvantage is that it doesn't explain why or how traits develop or any interactions between traits.

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