What makes the world and the people in it so interesting is that everybody is different and they possess their own personalities that are unique to each individual. It has been particularly interesting for psychologists to study and understand the differences between people, hence the great amount of research and work that has been conducted in relation to individual difference. In particular, the two theoretical perspectives that have attempted to explain personality are the trait theory and the personal construct theory. Throughout this essay I will be comparing the two theories by looking at their aims and methods, along with assessing their strengths and weaknesses in order to demonstrate the difference between the two theories.
When we think of people’s personalities, we may think in terms of their characteristics and their traits, consisting of biological and genetic factors, impacting on how people behave in certain ways. The trait theory, a psychometric approach to personality, is concerned with the differences between people and how the combinations of different traits make up a personality which is unique to each individual and is fixed and stable throughout their life. It focuses on identifying and measuring the characteristics that people possess in order to predict how a person will react in certain situations. The function of the trait theory approach can be seen to describe, predict and explain behaviours. The few psychologists that has adopted the trait theory approach, has attempted to develop models of personality, such as Cattell’s 16PF Inventory, who suggested that there are just sixteen personality traits that can describe people manageably and sufficiently (cited in Butt, 2012 p. 46). This model of personality has been used by occupational psychologists, predicting who would be best suited to a particular job role. (cited in Butt, 2004)
References: Butt, T. (2004) ‘Personality Theories 1: Trait, Biological and Cognitive’ in Butt, T. Understanding People, Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave Macmillan. Butt, T. (2012) ‘Individual Difference’ in Langdridge, D., Taylor, S. and Mahendran, K. (eds) Critical Readings in Social Psychology Milton Keyens, The Open University. Hollway, W. (2012) ‘Social psychology: Past and present’ in Hollway, W., Lucey, Helen., Phoenix, A. and Lewis, G. (eds) Social Psychology Matters Milton Keynes, The Open University