Related topics: personality

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When it comes to getting a date, there's any number of ways people can present themselves and their interests. One of the newer phenomena is a "foodie call" where a person sets up a date with someone they are not romantically ...

Have you got the right personality for Facebook?

How do personality traits affect one's use of the online social networking site, Facebook? That is the question researchers from Greece hope to answer in a paper in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising. ...

Sex differences in personality traits in Asian elephants

Scientists from the University of Turku, Finland, have found that male and female Asian elephants differ in their personality. Previous work on a timber elephant population from Myanmar has shown that Asian elephants have ...

Good dog? Bad dog? Their personalities can change

When dog-parents spend extra time scratching their dogs' bellies, take their dogs out for long walks and games of fetch, or even when they feel constant frustration over their dogs' naughty chewing habits, they are gradually ...

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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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