The accurate definition of personality has been a point of discussion amongst many different philosophers within many different disciplines since the beginning of civilization. Personality can be defined as "the relatively stable set of psychological characteristics that influences the way an individual interacts with his or her environment" (Johns , 1996: 75). Personality has a rocky history within the workplace and organization behavior because of measurement problems. There is now a renewed interest because of the emphasis on service jobs with customer contact, concerns about ethics and integrity and contemporary interest in teamwork and cooperation. All of these point to the potential contribution of personality.
Trait theory is based on several assumptions. The first of many trait theory assumptions are that any difference between people that is seen as significant will have a name. These names, known as traits, are conceived of as continuous dimensions. Trait theories assume that people vary concurrently on a number of personality factors.
These traits are of both the conjunctive and disjunctive form. To understand a trait, it is necessary to understand what a particular trait is and what type of behavior is proof of that trait. As it became evident to many psychologists that, mathematically, combinations of five factors were useful in describing personality, there was a need to clearly define what these factors were. Indeed, this process led to some dissent in the ranks. One dissenter from the five-factor theorists was renowned psychologist H. J. Eysenck. Eysenck felt that, due to overlaps in the five factors and their correlates, in fact a three-factor model was more appropriate and accurate. His trait theory is called the PEN model (which stand for psychoticism, extroversion, neuroticism), or sometimes this trait is shortened to the two factor E-IN model (extroversion-introversion, neuroticism). According to Eysenck, "Factor analysis has improved the situation...but the problem of naming factors is of course still with us" (Eysenck, 1991, p. 775). The five-factor theory is one of the newer models developed for the description of personality. The five-factor model shows promise to be among the most practical and applicable models available in the field of personality psychology. Thorough critical attention is given to the proposal that the five-factor model is in fact a great theory. To determine the greatness of a psychological theory, it is necessary to examine several key factors. First, to truly be labeled a great theory, it should be established that the theory does not contradict currently held or accepted theories. Also, once this is
established, a great theory would include some kind of classification. The theory would have some sort of clinical uses and would be able to predict experimental results without contradiction and with a relatively high level of consistency. Also, a great theory requires a ring of originality. It is not a great deed by anyone's standards to simply restate a long existing belief, or to remold it slightly and call it new. Finally, a great personality theory also needs to be universal.
The five factors in model consist of the following dimensions: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (OCEAN). "One major theory of personality regarding those traits as genetically programmed to develop during childhood and solidify by the age of 30. In mentally healthy people, they supposedly do not change during the rest of life". (Woods, Michael. "Personality trait study finds people can change" Toledo Blade May 2003). The breakdown of the traits and the ability to change are as follows: openness may decline slightly over the years in men and women. This trait involves being broad-minded, creative and imaginative. Conscientiousness will continue to increase from the age of 30 and beyond. The trait consists of having the tendency to...
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