Overview of Trait Perspective

The trait perspective is one of four types of perspectives that make individuals different from each other.
These four perspectives are:
1. Psychoanalytic: The definition and dynamics of personality development which underlie and guide psychoanalytic as well as psychodyanamic psychotherapy.
2. Social Cognitive Theory: describes learning in terms of the interrelationship between behavior, environmental factors, and personal factors.
3. Humanistic: Is a moral philosopy that considers humans to be of primary importance
4.Trait Perspective:
See Paragraph below.

Focusing on Trait Perspective: The trait approach to personality is one of the major theoretical areas in the study of personality. The trait theory suggests that individual personalities are composed broad dispositions. It is focused on the personality differences between individuals. The combination and interaction of various traits combine to form a personality that is unique to each individual. Trait theory is focused on identifying and measuring these individual personality characteristics.

A trait is a characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act as assessed by self-report inventories and peer reports

People have many traits, this would be known as trait perspective. But, consider this - images could have many different perspectives to look at to form the correct picture. While a person has different traits to form a personality which suits them.

What is happening on this crisp January day?Which perspective is correct?
What is happening on this crisp January day?Which perspective is correct?
Will and Guy think the second picture is how it was on the street.
Will and Guy think the second picture is how it was on the street.

Gordon Allports' 3 levels of traits:

Central Traits: The general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. These central traits, while not as dominating as cardinal traits, are the major characteristics you might use to describe another person.
Secondary Traits: Traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances.
Cardinal Traits: Traits that dominate an individual’s whole life, often to the point that the person becomes known specifically for these traits. These are very rare and tend to develop later in life.

Gordon Allport
Gordon Allport

- There are certain Personality traits that often group themselves together- if a person possesses one, they often possess the others. e.g. One who is talkative and outgoing is more prone to possess leadership.
- Traits prove to be helpful to differentiate between various people.
- The traits we possess affect our behaviors.
- Traits are not always visible, as we act differently in some situations and my keep certain traits hidden in formal situations, but allow them to be expressed when in the company of our friends.
- Although interests may change often, traits mostly stay the same.

Trait Chart
Melancholic - Characterized by, causing, our expressing sadness
Choleric - Characterized by anger
Sanguine - Characterized by optimisim and cherrfulness
Phlegmatic - Characterized by little emotion.


Names to Remember!

Carl Jung
One of the earliest trait theories was introduced by a colleague of Sigmund Freud's by the name of Carl Jung. Jung was never completely sold on Freud's ideas, and branched out and developed his own theory. He went on to develop analytical, or Jungian, psychology.

Carl Jung
Carl Jung

jungians archetype chart.

Hans Eysenck
British psychologist who developed a model of personality based upon just three universal traits: introversion-extroversion, neuroticism-emotional instability, and psychoticism.
  • Extroversion/Introversion-
    • (Extroversion)- When a person likes to be outgoing to meet new people or to do new things.
    • (Introversion)- When a person is very shy and likes to keep to themselves, and not be in social situations.
  • Neuroticism- Responsible for fight or flight when in contact with danger. Neurotic people can get upset very easily, while emotionally stable people are calmer under pressure. Emotionally stable would be the opposite.
  • Psychoticism- This is when a person has a "break" with reality, and has a lot of aggression towards different things.

Hans Eysenck
Hans Eysenck

Raymond Cattell
Trait theorist who narrowed the number of personality traits from 4,000 to 16. He then developed the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF), one of the most widely used personality assessments.
  • Cattell's 16 Factor traits: Warmth, Intellect, Emotional Stability, Aggressiveness, Liveliness, Dutifulness, Social Assertiveness, Sensitivity, Paranoia, Introversion, Anxiety, Open-mindedness, Independence, Perfectionism, and Tension.

Raymond Cattell
Raymond Cattell

Myers and Briggs
Two students of Jung's theory, mother and daughter, developed a personality test based on Jung's temperaments called the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, or MBTI. It has gone on the become the most famous personality test of all time.

Finding Your Trait Quiz



Personality is half enviromental and half heredity.

"The Big Five"

--->Personality is an individual's characteristic pattern or thinking, feeling,and acting. -Personality can portray individual differences and how individuals act in to specific events.

The Big Five Factors - five broad domains or dimensions of personality which have been scientifically discovered to define human personality "The Big Five" factors:

1.Extroversion (sometimes called Surgency). The broad dimension of Extroversion encompasses such more specific traits as talkative, energetic, outgoing, positive emotions, and assertive. Seeks stimulation in the presence of others.

2.Agreeableness. Includes traits like sympathetic, friendly, compassionate, kind, cooperative, and affectionate.
3.Conscientiousness. Includes traits like organized, efficient, thorough, and planned. Aims for high achievement.
4.Neuroticism (sometimes reversed and called Emotional Stability). Includes traits like tense, moody, and anxious. Has anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. Is sensitive and nervous.
5.Openness to Experience (sometimes called Intellect or Intellect/Imagination). Includes traits like having wide interests, and being imaginative and insightful. Is attentive and curious.

*Use the mnemonic ocean
*Use the mnemonic ocean
Trait Labels can be used to describe how different people act.  An example would be Whoopi Goldbert.  She is as outgoing as she seems.
Trait Labels can be used to describe how different people act. An example would be Whoopi Goldbert. She is as outgoing as she seems.

consciousness video
openness video

extraversion/introversion video

Book Vocabulary To Increase Your Intelligence!
  • Personality - An individual's characteristic pattern or thinking, feeling,and acting.
  • Trait - A characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act as assessed by self-report inventors and peer reports.
  • Personality Inventory - A questionnaire on which people respond to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors, used to assess selected personality traits.
  • Empirically Derived Test - A test developed by testing a pool of items and the selecting those that discriminate between groups.
  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory(MMPI) - The Most Widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests. Originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still considered its most appropriate use). This test is now used for many screening purposes.
  • Social- Cognitive Perspective - Views behavior as influenced by the interaction between persons and their social context.
  • Reciprocal Determinism - The interacting influences between personality and environmental factors.
  • Personal Control - Our sense of controlling our environment rather that feeling helpless.
  • External Locus Control - The perception that chance or outside forces beyond one's personal control determine one's fate.
  • Internal Locus Of Control - The perception that one controls one's own fate.
  • Learned Helplessness - The hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events.
  • Positive Psychology - The scientific study of optimal human functioning; aims to discover and promote strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.


Big five personality traits. (2006, March 1). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=8948&cn=18

Boeree, G.C. (2003). Trait theories. Retrieved from http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/genpsytraits.html

Cherry, K. (n.d.). Gordon Allport Biography. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesal/p/gordon-allport.htm

Cliffnotes.com. (2010, March 2). Trait and type perspectives. http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Trait-and-Type-Perspectives.topicArticleId-25438,articleId-25389.html

Crawford, K. (n.d.). The Trait perspective. Retrieved from www.karencrawfordphd.com/Media/EDocs/Personality_Ch_7.doc

John, O.D. (2009). The Big five personality test. Retrieved from http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/

Kienlen, L.P. (n.d.). The Big five personality traits. Retrieved from http://psychology.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_big_five_personality_traits

McCrae, R.R. (n.d.). Human nature and culture: a trait perspective. Retrieved from http://www.psych.uiuc.edu/~broberts/McCrae%202004.pdf

McCrimmon, M. (2008, November 25). Leadership traits: three perspectives. Retrieved from http://www.leadersdirect.net/articles/707/1/Leadership-Traits-Three-Perspectives/Page1.html

msu.edu, (n.d.). Ch. 15 personalitly. Retrieved from http://www.msu.edu/course/psy/101/jackson/HiAchSum2005/Chapter15/Chapter15Review.doc

Myers, D.G. (2005). Exploring psychology. Michigan: Worth Publishers.

Srivastava, S. (2010). Measuring the Big Five Personality Factors. Retrieved 25 Feb. 2010 from http://www.uoregon.edu/~sanjay/bigfive.html.


Ali Smead, Ally Glover, Brittania Smead, Chelsea Gifford, Dana Garguilo, Danielle Steding, Jasmine Adams, Katie Brooker, Katie Conrad, Kayla Olsen, Mattie Deer, Nicole Schrader, Tanesha Williams.