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Trait Perspective. Trait Perspective. Describe personality in terms of fundamental traits Not trying to explain why these traits exist, only describe them and classify them. Trait Perspective. Trait = a characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act

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trait perspective1
Trait Perspective
  • Describe personality in terms of fundamental traits
  • Not trying to explain why these traits exist, only describe them and classify them
trait perspective2
Trait Perspective
  • Trait = a characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act
    • e.g. introvert, outgoing, cheerful, anxious, …
  • How do we describe and classify traits?
    • According to “types”
    • Many different systems have been used
classifying traits
Classifying Traits
  • Ancient Greeks: according to the four body humors

- Melancholic (depressed) - Sanguine (cheerful)

- Phlegmatic (unemotional) - Choleric (irritable)

  • Sheldon’s Body Types:

- Mesomorph - Ectomorph - Endomorph

classifying traits1
Classifying traits
  • Myers-Briggs Types:
    • Classifies personality according to four dichotomies (opposites)

Extrovert Introvert

Sensing Intuition

Thinking Feeling


  • How do we know which systems is the best?
classifying traits2
Classifying Traits
  • Factor Analysis: statistical procedure to identify clusters of behavior that are related, and reflect a basic trait
    • e.g. outgoing people tend to say they like excitement and practical jokes, and dislike quiet reading
      • Trait = extraversion
classifying traits3
Classifying Traits
  • The Big Five:
    • Slightly expanded set of factors that is still considered the standard in describing personality
      • Emotional Stability
      • Extraversion
      • Openness
      • Agreeableness
      • Conscientiousness
classifying traits4
Classifying Traits
  • More recent research has revealed:
  • Characteristics of the Big 5:
    • More stable in adulthood
    • 50% hereditary
    • Cross-Cultural
    • Can be used to predict behavior
assessing traits
Assessing Traits
  • Personality Inventories: long questionnaires where people respond (T/F) to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors
  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
    • Compared responses to hundred of questions between normal and disordered people
    • Retained any statements that differed from normal
      • e.g. “Nothing in the newspaper interests me except the comics”  indicative of depression
evaluating the trait perspective
Evaluating the Trait Perspective
  • Person-Situation Controversy:
    • Remember: Is our behavior influenced by our personal disposition, or situational context?
  • Do personality traits persist over time and across situations?
    • Time: Personality trait scores correlated well over time
      • Children (0.31), Collegians (0.54), 30-Year olds (0.54), Over 70 (0.74)


    • Situation: little correlation between behavior in one situation and the next.


assessing the trait perspective
Assessing the Trait Perspective
  • Therefore, scores on personality tests only mildly predict behavior
    • Example: If one test determines you are an extrovert, it does not predict how you will act in each social situation
  • But, we can use personality tests to predict the average of our traits.
  • The best indicator = people who know us well!
online personality test
Online Personality Test
  • This test is based on Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typological approach to personality:
lemon test
Lemon Test
  • Are you an introvert or an extrovert?