Psychology & Psychiatry

Can you change your personality? Scientists say 'maybe'

It has long been believed that people can't change their personalities, which are largely stable and inherited. But a review of recent research in personality science points to the possibility that personality traits can ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Personality traits affect retirement spending

How quickly you spend your savings in retirement may have as much or more to do with your personality than whether you have a lot of debt or want to leave an inheritance.

Psychology & Psychiatry

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?

A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs. But obesity is also a complex condition that cannot be fully explained by the addiction ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Competitive people are more prone to drug consumption

Hostile and competitive people are more likely to give in to drug consumption, according to a study published by a research group at the University of Cordoba (Spain). When a person faces a decision regarding these kinds ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Is there such thing as an addictive personality?

Most of us know somebody who tends to get over involved in certain behaviors, and the saying often goes that they must have an "addictive personality." But is there such a thing?

Neuroscience

Curiosity: We're studying the brain to help you harness it

They say curiosity killed the cat for a reason. Being curious has many advantages, but it is also associated with risk taking. But what is curiosity exactly? Is it really just one personality trait that you can have more ...

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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.

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