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Essay on Trait Theory

Posted by admin as Example papers

Example Essay on Trait Theory

Traits are distinguishing features of a person’s personality and personal nature. There are definitely no two persons in the world with to absolutely identical traits. Although twins, for example, appear to be just alike from without, their inner attitudes and features of character differ at least slightly. In the first place, what sense would it make if all people treated things in the same way? So, what is beautiful about all the people in the world is that we all are different. Each person treats external events differently, behaves in various situations in a unique manner, and appears before others in a particular way.

According to trait theory, it is believed that a person’s personality comprises of traits, or dispositions that lead to characteristic responses. Depending on how these people behave in different situations, specialists describe their behavior. There are five main factors in the trait theory: emotional stability, conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, and extraversion. Each of the five is different from others, and having had a closer look at them, one would definitely fit oneself easily into one of the categories. Emotional stability implies being self-satisfied, secure, and calm rather than being self-pitying, insecure, or anxious. Conscientiousness implies being disciplined, careful, and organized rather than impulsive, careless, or disorganized. Openness claims a person is independent, imaginative, and prefers variety of routine rather that conforming or practical. Agreeableness focuses on a person being softhearted trusting, and helpful instead of uncooperative, suspicious or ruthless. And finally Extraversion implies that a person is sociable, fun loving, and affectionate rather than reversed, retiring or sober. Trait theory also focuses on two important approaches of ego, such as individualism and collectivism. Individualism focuses on satisfying the needs of oneself rather than the needs of the group the individual is in. This approach means that the person focuses relatively more on such values as personal distinction, independence, and/or simply feeling good. Collectivism on the contrary, gives priority to group goals and values that strengthen the group and preserve its integrity, rather than individual goals. However, critics have revealed several disadvantages of the trait theory, claiming that one person may act differently in accordance with the critical situation. In other words, personality is relatively variable and so it changes immediately when it is drawn to one or the other situation. This way the term situationism appeared, which means that personality features actually vary upon the situations. Another important element is missing in the trait theory, namely self-esteem. Self-esteem is subjective and effective evaluation of self-image, self-concept and self-worth. To put it simply, self-esteem is a feeling of pride in yourself. The higher self-esteem is, the more the person focuses on positive things and strength. Also people with high self-esteem tend to derive objectively positive outcomes and benefits of not so positive situations. People with lower self-esteem on the other hand, focus on weaknesses and treat everything around them from a negative perspective, seeing and focusing on negative sides of good and pleasant situations.

Raymond Cattell, an English psychologist, claimed that a person’s personality consists of two kinds of traits, surface traits and source traits. According to his trait theory the sixteen source traits were the ones the actual personality consists of. And the other surfaced traits can be derived from those sixteen source traits. Cattell also developed a special questionnaire with the help of which he examined people’s personality. The questionnaire consisted of 170 separate words, and intended to evaluate each of the sixteen source traits in the questioned person.

Hans Eysenck conducted similar research and at approximately the same time as Cattell did, however he ended up with a different concept. He came up with two factors, namely extraversion-introversion and neuroticism-stability. The extraversion-introversion concept focuses on person’s tendency to seek novelty and stimulation. An extraverted person would be willing go out, take risks, make many friends rather than introverted person. Neuroticism-stability focuses on whether or not the person tends to become emotionally unset. Eysenck claimed that both concepts are substantially influenced by a person’s biology. Also Eysenck claimed that “the difference in behavior between extraverts and introverts are due to the tendency to seek out an optimal level of stimulation”, and that when extraverts find a particular activity very comforting, introverts tend to be overestimated by the same activities.
Through time, many late psychologists tried to find the real truth about personality because they were not satisfied with neither Eysenck’s theory or Cattell’s one. They believed that real truth is concealed somewhere between the two theories, and so they have developed another theory that seem to account for the most factors in differences of personality between people. The theory is called the big five, and consists of five factors, openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion and neuroticism (two Eysenck’s factors). This theory up till now is the way psychologists explain personality traits, however the latest version definitely differs from the one at inception.

List of References:
1. HyperDictionary online dictionary resource. From Hyper Dictionary at http://www.hyperdictionary.com/ dictionary/trait
2.Lester, D. (1974). A psychological basis for personality traits: and new theory of personality. Thomas Pub.
3.Mathews, G. & Whiteman, M. (2003). Personality Traits. Cambridge University Press.

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