Psychology & Psychiatry

Impostor syndrome: When self-doubt gets the upper hand

People who systematically underestimate themselves and their own performance suffer from so-called impostor phenomenon. They think that any success is due to external circumstances or just luck and chance. Those people live ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Differences in children's behavior predict midlife health behaviors

A recent study by the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä and the Gerontology Research Center (Finland) investigated the paths from childhood socioemotional behavior to midlife health behavior ...


Parental criticism hurts: A glimpse inside the adolescent brain

It may seem as though adolescents do as they please, but they are more sensitive to their parents' opinions than they may seem. The adolescent brain reacts strongly to parental criticism or praise. These are the results of ...

page 1 from 35

Trait theory

In psychology, Trait theory is a major 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 relatively stable over time, differ among individuals (e.g. some people are outgoing whereas others are shy), and influence behavior.

Gordon Allport was an early pioneer in the study of traits, which he sometimes referred to as dispositions. In his approach, central traits are basic to an individual's personality, whereas secondary traits are more peripheral. Common traits are those recognized within a culture and may vary between cultures. Cardinal traits are those by which an individual may be strongly recognized. Since Allport's time, trait theorists have focused more on group statistics than on single individuals. Allport called these two emphases "nomothetic" and "idiographic," respectively.

There is a nearly unlimited number of potential traits that could be used to describe personality. The statistical technique of factor analysis, however, has demonstrated that particular clusters of traits reliably correlate together. Hans Eysenck has suggested that personality is reducible to three major traits. Other researchers argue that more factors are needed to adequately describe human personality. Many psychologists currently believe that five factors are sufficient.

Virtually all trait models, and even ancient Greek philosophy, include extraversion vs. introversion as a central dimension of human personality. Another prominent trait that is found in nearly all models is Neuroticism, or emotional instability.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA