Trait theory is "an individuals relatively consistent way of thinking, feeling, and behaving across situations" in relation to communication (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011). Trait theory could also be classified as a personality theory since personality is what causes a person to behave a certain way due to his or her emotional qualities, or way of thinking and feeling. Communication is " the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else" ("communication," 2013). Komarraju et al. (2011) define communication as a process to encode, recall, organize, and apply information. When comparing the definitions for both trait and communication, it becomes clear that personality is a large factor in communication since both utilize behaviors due to thoughts and feelings. Although thoughts and feelings are associated with emotions, emotions and personality are not synonymous, though emotions are often mistaken as an individual's personality (Hall, Gunnery, & Andrzejewski, DATE).
When researching trait theory and how traits affect communication, one particular trait theory stood out the most for both ease of application and the amount of research done on this particular theory. The five factor model of personality, or The Big Five, seemed to be the most relevant theory researched, though not as much study has been done on the theory in direct application to communications, the existing research has correlations to communication that make the theory relevant in trait theory studies for communication. These studies are relevant to all forms of communication. Due to the five factor model of personality being define...
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...ss to experience have greater access to a variety of feelings, thoughts, perspectives, and ideas," (George & Zhou, 2001). When considering the definition of communication with the traits of individuals scoring high in openness, this would imply that open individuals should be better at expressing themselves than others, thus, they are better at communicating in certain ways than others. Additionally, when considering that communication is more than just words, the highly artistic and creative traits of open individuals would indicate these individuals may be more adept at communicating visually than those with less open characteristics. However, when looking into communication, openness seemed to have less influence on certain types of communication than other traits. For example, openness had little impact on social media usage than other traits (Source, DATE).
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