The Goal of the Trait Approach
o “Unified Theory of Everything’ Approach—Freud to a trait Approach (Cattell and
Allport) ▯ used clinical observations
o Trait approach uses statistical and linguistic analysis to taxonomize of human
traits and characteristics
o DEFN: a biopsychological tendency that inclines a person to experience and
respond to divers situations in a consistently similar way
o Traits are continuous and normally distributed—not either or—situational; to
• We tend to operate within a typical range of distribution
o Traits are internal and relatively stable across situations
• An optimist is relatively optimistic throughout school, work, relationships,
leisurely activities etc.
• This has a biological (genes) and psychological (Learning causes)
o Traits are additive and independent
• There are distinct source traits, which in varying combinations, create
someone’s unique personality profile.
How many traits are there?
Surface traits vs. source traits
o In linguistic analysis, Gordon Allport identified 18,000 English trait adjectives.
o We call most of these “Surface T