The Trait Theory of Personality Essay

The Trait Theory of Personality Essay

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The study of personality traits is beneficial in identifying the many variables that exist from human to human; the combinations of these variables provide us with a true level of individuality and uniqueness. In the field of psychology, trait theory is considered to be a key approach to the study of human personality (Crowne, 2007; Burton, Westen & Kowalski, 2009). This paper aims to identify a number of significant contributors who have played crucial roles in both the development and application of trait theory. This paper then moves focus to these theorists, outlining their theory and analysing both the strengths and weaknesses of those theories. An illustration of the methods used in trait measurement is given and includes the arguments both for and against such procedures. Lastly the findings of trait theory and its components described within the paper will be summarised.

Major contributors to the trait theory of personality include three prominent psychologists. Boeree (2006) states that American born psychologist Gordon Allport has been described as the founding father of personality trait theory. Allport’s distinguished career included him holding presidency of the American Psychological Association (APA) and receiving the Gold Medal Award and a Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the APA (Carducci, 2009, p. 260). After meeting with Sigmund Freud in 1922 and studying his interpretation of personality, Allport developed the opinion that psychoanalysis was too in-depth while behaviourism was far too shallow in the field of personality psychology. It was this insight that lead Allport to develop his own theory of personality (Ewen, 2003, p. 260). According to Ewen (2003), in 1936 Allport used just one dictio...


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Magnavita, J. J. (2002). Theories of personality: Contemporary approaches to the science of personality. New York: Wiley.

Matthews, G., Deary, I. J., & Whiteman, M. C. (2009). Personality traits. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

McCrae, R. R., & Allik, I. U. (2002). The five-factor model of personality across cultures. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Nairne, J. S. (2009). Psychology. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth.

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