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Chapter 3

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University of Waterloo
Richard Eibach

Chapter 3: The Trait-Disposition Level I & Types and Traits  Traits are conceptualized as individual differences in tendencies to show consistent behavior across many different situations and with much stability over time  Traits are quantifiable  Trait approach: an approach to personality that categorizes individuals in terms of traits  Traits: (basic qualities of the person that express themselves in many contexts) refers to consistent differences between the behaviour or characteristics of two or more people hence it is defined as any distinguishable, relatively enduring way in which one individual varies from another  Hippocrates-bodily humors: choleric temperament=excess of yellow bile; depressive temperament=black bile; sanguine person=too much blood; phlegmatic person= too much phlegm  Three most influential trait theorists are: 1) Gordon Allport 2) Raymond B.Cattell 3) Hans J. Eysenck Gordon Allport:  1937 – Personality: A Psychological Interpretation- launched psych of personality as a field and discipline  He wanted the field to pursue two goals: 1) Was to understand the differences between people in personality 2) Was to see how the different characteristics and processes (like learning, memory, and biological processes) that exist within an individual interact and function together in an integrated way  Allport’s conception of traits continues to guide much of the work at the trait-dispositional level of analysis  In Allport’s theory, traits have a very real existence: they are ultimate realitities of psychological organization  Traits are determining tendencies or predispositions to respond  He believed that traits are relatively general and enduring, and that they were able to make, “many stimuli functionally equivalent”  Allport was convinced that some people have dispositions that influence most aspects of their behavior  He called these highly generalized dispositions cardinal traits.  Cardinal Traits: highly generalized dispositions or characteristics that influence most aspects of an individual’s behavior throughout life  For example ^, if a person’s whole life seems to be organized around goal achievement and the attainment of excellence, then achievement might be his or her cardinal trait  Central Traits: Allport’s term for traits that are less important and pervasive than cardinal traits but that still influence much of a person’s behavior  Secondary Dispositions (or attitudes): the most specific, defined traits or attitudes that influence an individual’s behavior  Allport believed that one’s pattern of dispositions or personality structure determines one’s behavior  Trait Structure: Unique structure of a trait as it exists in a particular individual  Allport believed in using intensive and long-term case studies and he did pioneering work at the Phenomenological- Humanistic level of analysis Raymond B. Cattell:  Another imp trait theorist  For him, trait is also the basic unit of study; it is a “mental structure,” inferred from behavior, and a fundamental contruct that accounts for behavioural regularity or consistency  Cattell distinguished between common traits and unique traits  Common traits: traits that are shared in different degrees by different people  Unique traits: traits that only exist in one individual and cannot be found in another in exactly the same form  Cattell also distinguished surface traits from source traits  Surface Traits: clusters of overt or manifest trait
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