Trait Theory

Topics: Big Five personality traits, Personality psychology, Trait theory Pages: 14 (4204 words) Published: December 8, 2012
Trait theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Trait theory
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trait theory in psychology, is an approach to the study of human personality. Trait theorists are primarily interested in the measurement of traits, which can be defined as habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion.[1] According to this perspective, traits are relatively stable over time, differ across individuals (e.g. some people are outgoing whereas others are shy), and influence behavior. Gordon Allport was an early pioneer in the study of traits, which he sometimes referred to as dispositions. In his approach, central traits are basic to an individual's personality, whereas secondary traits are more peripheral. Common traits are those recognized within a culture and may vary between cultures. Cardinal traits are those by which an individual may be strongly recognized. Since Allport's time, trait theorists have focused more on group statistics than on single individuals. Allport called these two emphases "nomothetic" and "idiographic," respectively. There is a nearly unlimited number of potential traits that could be used to describe personality. The statistical technique of factor analysis, however, has demonstrated that particular clusters of traits reliably correlate together. Hans Eysenck has suggested that personality is reducible to three major traits.[2][3] Other researchers argue that more factors are needed to adequately describe human personality including humor, wealth and beauty.[4] Many psychologists currently believe that five factors are sufficient.[5][6] Virtually all trait models, and even ancient Greek philosophy, include extraversion vs. introversion as a central dimension of human personality. Another prominent trait that is found in nearly all models is Neuroticism, or emotional instability. Trait theory is also useful in marketing for discovering more information about consumer behavior. As stated before, personality traits are identifiable characteristics that define a person. When regarding consumer behavior, marketers use quantitative measurement of these personality traits to discover more about their consumers, including why they make their purchases. The five main traits that are relevant to consumer behavior include: innovativeness, materialism, self-consciousness, need for cognition, and frugality. Innovativeness is the tendency to first buy new products, this is product category specific. For example, some individuals may always be first in line to consistently buy the latest Apple product that is released. Materialism is when individuals focus on buying and owning products, not just about spending money, but they focus on the material. The appeal of having "stuff" is greater than simply spending the money on it. The third trait is self-consciousness, or when individuals care more about the things that will be seen in public, for example, shoes and makeup. The need for cognition is aimed at consumers who need to think and want to have more information. The last trait is frugality. Being frugal is not necessarily paying the least, but making sure that the product is used resourcefully. These individuals want to use their product to the end of its life. These consumers tend to deny short term purchases and just make do. Mixed success has been seen when using this method to predict product choices using the standard personality trait quantitative measurements. The scales are not valid or reliable since each person may have a different idea for what each trait is or what it really means and there is really no thought of scale application. Constant ad hoc instrument changes also severely affect the accuracy of this method.

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 1 The Two taxonomies 2 Lower-order factors 3 Causality 4 List of personality traits 5 See also 6 References


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