From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In psychology, trait theory (also called dispositional theory) is an approach to the study of human personality. Trait theorists are primarily interested in the measurement of traits, which can be defined as habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion. According to this perspective, traits are aspects of personality that are relatively stable over time, differ across individuals (e.g. some people are outgoing whereas others are not), are relatively consistent over situations, and influence behavior. Traits are in contrast to states, which are more transitory dispositions.
In some theories and systems, traits are something a person either has or does not have, but in many others traits are dimensions such as extraversion vs. introversion, with each person rating somewhere along this spectrum.
There are two approaches to define traits: as internal causal properties or as purely descriptive summaries. The internal causal definition states that traits influence our behaviours, leading us to do things in line with that trait. On the other hand, traits as descriptive summaries are descriptions of our actions that don't try to infer causality.
Gordon Allport was an early pioneer in the study of traits, this early work was viewed as the beginning of the modern psychological study of personality. He also referred to traits within his work as dispositions. In his approach, "cardinal" traits are those that dominate and shape a person's behavior; their ruling passions/obsessions, such as a need for money, fame etc. By contrast, "central" traits such as honesty are characteristics found in some degree in every person - and finally "secondary" traits are those seen only in certain circumstances (such as particular likes or dislikes that a very close friend may know), which are included to provide a complete picture of human complexity.
A wide variety of alternative theories and scales were later developed, including:
- Raymond Cattell's 16PF Questionnaire
- J. P. Guilford's Structure of Intellect
- Henry Murray's System of Needs
- Timothy Leary's Interpersonal circumplex
- Myers–Briggs Type Indicator
- Gray's Biopsychological theory of personality
Currently, two general approaches are the most popular:Template:Citation needed
- Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, (EPQ) ("the three-factor model"). Using factor analysis Hans Eysenck suggested that personality is reducible to three major traits: neuroticism, extraversion, and psychoticism.
- Big Five personality traits, ("the five-factor model"). Many psychologists currently believe that five factors are sufficient: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
- 16 Personality Factors
- Alternative five model of personality
- Big Five personality traits
- Cultural schema theory
- HEXACO model of personality structure
- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
- Personality psychology
- Szondi test