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Trait theories of personality. Personality traits. A personality trait is a personality characteristic that endures (lasts) over time and across different situations

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personality traits
Personality traits
  • A personality trait is a personality characteristic that endures (lasts) over time and across different situations
  • Trait theoriesof personality focus on measuring, identifying and describing individual differences in personality in terms of traits
  • Focus is on what is different- not what is the same
  • Can be used to predict behaviour based on traits
main assumptions of theories
Main assumptions of theories
  • One: that personality traits are relatively stable and therefore predictable over time
  • Two: Personality traits are relatively stable across different situations
  • Three: trait theories take into account that personality consists of a number of different traits, and that some people have ‘more’ or ‘less’ of each trait than others
  • Four: some traits are more closely interrelated than
  • other traits and tend to occur together
Personality traits are described on a continuum – showing either end of the trait
  • I.e. Confidence continuum
  • Allport’s hierarchy of traits
  • Cattell’s 16 personality factor model
  • Eysenck’s PEN model
  • Costa and McCrae Five Factor Model
  • Collect information needed to complete table
strengths and limitations of trait theories
Strengths and Limitations of trait theories
  • Provide useful descriptions of personality and its structure
  • Provided the foundation of valid and reliable personality devices
  • Can lead people to accept and use oversimplified classifications and descriptions
  • Underestimate socio-cultural influences on behaviour
humanistic theories of personality
Humanistic theories of personality
  • Emerged in 1950s in America
  • Humanistic theories of personalityemphasise the uniqueness of each individual and the positive qualities and potential of all human beings to fulfil their lives
  • Based on the assumption that all people are born good and that all individuals strive to reach their full potential throughout their lives
  • Believe that a healthy personality is the result of a person achieving their full potential
  • Also believe that personality is made up of all experiences up to any point in time
  • to understand someone’s personality fully, you must try to understand the dilemmas and choices they have made in their lives from their perspective
carl rogers
Carl Rogers
  • American
  • 1902-87
  • believed that all people are born good, with considerable potential, and that each person has the ability to achieve their full potential as an individual if they are able to overcome a series of hurdles
  • Rogers emphasised the importance of free will, we are all individuals who freely choose to behave in whatever way we desire, and we act according to that choice
person centred theory
Person-centred theory
  • Developed by Rogers based

on clinical work with his


  • Believed each person is like

The seed of an enormous


3 key factors which influence self actualisation
3 Key factors which influence self actualisation
  • Self-actualise: reach full potential
  • the way others treat them (that is, whether they are accepted or rejected by other people)
  • how they view themself (that is, their self-concept)
  • how effectively they can deal with negative influences in their life that cause them anxiety or conflict
self concept
Self Concept
  • Self-concept:all the perceptions and beliefs an individual has about themself including their nature, unique qualities and their typical behaviour
  • Rogers believed that childhood is a critical time for the development of personality and that the social relationships a child experiences during that time have lasting effects on the development of their self concept
  • Our idea of ‘who we are’ is built up, over time, from childhood, through our interactions with others and our environment
influence of others in developing our self concept
Influence of others in developing our self concept
  • People who are important to us can assist our self-actualising in three important ways:
    • by being genuine ; by being honest and open with their feelings towards us
    • by being accepting; by valuing us for what we are, regardless of our shortcomings so that we experience unconditional positive regard
    • By encouraging our ‘blossoming’ by being empathetic; being able to put themselves in our position and fully understand, from our point of view, how we feel
what makes a well adjusted person
What makes a well adjusted person?
  • A well-adjusted and happy individual is someone whose self-image (the person you think you are), ideal self (the person you want to be) and true self (the person you actually are) are all congruent (match), or are fairly similar
measuring personality
Measuring personality
  • Humanist theorists do not believe you can measure or rate personality
  • They do however use a Q-sort test
  • This is used mainly during therapy to examine the self-concept, and the extent to which the true self and the ideal self match (or are mismatched), and to study changes in the client’s perception of self during the course of treatment (Malim & Birch, 1998)
  • Used a client-centred approach to therapy
strengths and limitations
Strengths and Limitations
  • Focus on positive dimensions of personality
  • Give a complete picture of how a healthy personality develops
  • Humanist theories are often criticised as being too simplistic and vague and unable to be tested scientifically
  • Focus on self fulfilment (this can be a negative!)
  • Unrealistic- do not recognise the capacity of people to be evil
  • Complete activity 12.21
  • Read pages 539-545
  • Complete activity 12.26