Do personality traits predict behaviour?
The trait approach to personality is focused on differences between individuals. After type theorists such as Sheldon, who focused on body parts to determine temperament, and lexical researchers such as Galton who provided the first dictionary of words to describe behaviour, the principles underpinning trait theory were first outlined by Gordon Allport (1937). He found that one English-language dictionary alone contained more than 4,000 words describing different personality traits and suggested that it is how the traits come together that produces the uniqueness of all individuals. Rather than relying on intuition or subjective judgement as did Freud and many other neo-Freudians, trait theorists used objective measurements to examine their constructs. The use of factor analysis was a major breakthrough in the trait approach and Raymond Cattell was the first to make the use of this to reduce the lists of traits to a smaller number. This marked the beginning of the search to discover the basis structure of personality. This essay will discuss the issues surrounding the use of personality measures such as Eysencks personality questionnaire (EPQ) and Costa and Mc Crae’s Big Five model (NEO-PIR) to predict behaviour. Cattell’s 16PF hasn’t had much of an impact but personality measures that followed such as Eysenck’s personality questionnaire, who claimed that 3 types/ supertraits, Extraversion, Neuroticism and Psychoticism, make up the basic structure of personality, and Costa and mc Crae’s Big Five Model measuring Openness, Conscientious, Extraversion, agreeableness and Neuroticism, have received a high level of support. The personality factors are found cross-culturally, in children as well as adults and specifically for Eysencks model in identical twins raised apart, evidence which seems to demonstrate that the observed personality differences are stable across time and have a genetic basis, although the underlying...
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