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Trait Approach.docx

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Connie Boudens

Trait Approach Trait: a consistent pattern of behavior, emotion, and thought  Stability over time and situations  Distinctiveness between people Personality: sum of all traits Trait theories provide descriptions that must be explained by other theories Theorists try to establish:  framework within which any and all persons can be described  taxonomy of traits Approaches to discovering traits Lexical Approach Statistical (Empirical) Approach Theoretical Approach Common traits and traits continua Common traits are traits shared by all Behaviours can be represented on trait continuum - each person can be placed somewhere on continuum Scores assumed to be normal distributed (fewer people score in the extreme on any trait) Common traits and Nomothemic approach Ordering people along these dimensions is nomothetic approach used in most trait theories Compares people along the same personality dimensions  Ex: comparing Canadians and Americans on the trait of risk-aversion Contrast with idiographic approach  In-depth study of individuals (ideograph) vs. comparing larger groups of people on one or two traits (nomothemic) o Idiographic means looking at how an individual reacts to situations Gordon Allport Advocated idiographic (lexical) approach Uniqueness = Combination of traits Used techniques like diaries, interviews, behavioural observations, q-sort etc. to assess personality  Q-sort: having a person sorting cards with traits written on them in order of what traits apply to the individual. According to Allport, a trait was Internal structures that render many stimuli functionally equivalent (Stimuli are functionally equivalent when the person sees them in the same way and behaves in a consistent manner ) and yield similar adaptive and expressive behaviours.  This meant that the trait was something inside the person that made external stimuli seem the same to that person o Example: shy person might see all social situations as threatening and react with anxiety Traits express what a person generally does across many different situations Inconsistency does not mean that traits doesn’t exist - situations also influence whether, where, and how traits expressed.  Individuals will not act the same way as they normally do when they are in a situation where they’re limited. o ex: Lack of sociability at a funeral Three types of traits, according to Allport: Cardinal  Single characteristic that directs most of a person’s activities. o This means that they live around that one trait – they are so determined to help others that they give up a lot of other traits  Few people have them Central  Major characteristics of an individual.  Usually 5 - 10  People tend to describe others at this level where there is balance between trait generality and behavioral specificity. o Extraverted vs. Intraverted Secondary  Characteristics that affect behavior in fewer situations & are less influential.  More easily modified than central traits o ex: preference for dark chocolate or dislike of rap music Raymond Cattell Empirical approach to trait theory Reduction of 4,500 trait words (left by Allport) to 16 most basic personality dimensions  Removed synonyms  Collected ratings on remaining traits  Used factor analysis to reduce Major Division of Traits Constitutional (biological) vs. environment-mold (learned)  Constitutional: genetic or part of fact of people are human  Environment-mold: what you learned through experiences Ability vs. temperament vs. dynamic  Ability: Skill in dealing with complexity = intelligence o Fluid: ability to think and reason o Crystallized: learned  Temperament: General traits that appear present early o Energy, moodiness, interest in others  Dynamic: Motivations o Ambition, competitiveness, etc. Surface vs. source vs. second-ord
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