Personality Trait Theory

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What is a personality trait?
Stable qualities that a person shows in most situations.
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What is a personality type?
People who have several traits in common belong to the same personality type.
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What does the trait approach assume?
Everyone can be placed on a continuum for every personality trait. Personalities are explained by having relatively greater or lesser amounts of a trait.
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What does the type approach assume?
Each of us fits into one personality category and that all people within this category are basically alike. Each type is different from all other types.
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Why is the trait approach useful?
For predicting behaviour based on characteristics and thought.
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What is the first major assumption of the trait approach?
Personality differences between people are relative, rather than absolute. We all share the same traits, but the composition/ pattern varies between individuals.
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What is the second major assumption of the trait approach?
Personality traits are relatively stable across time and situations. Researchers are not interested in predicting behaviour in given situations, but typical behaviour in general situations.
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What is the difference between a trait and a state?
Traits are enduring and stable over time and situations. States are brief and situation-specific.
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How do the trait and type approaches differ with regards to independence.
Traits are generally independent of one another, however the type approach suggests clusters of traits that are similar make up a type, so these traits must be linked.
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What are some of the main points of Allport's theory?
Personality is dynamic, and motivation differs with age; a few traits can explain most behaviour; healthy personality is as important as a psychologically healthy mind; conscious values shape personality.
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What is the ideographic approach?
It aims to identity the unique combination of traits that best account for an individual's personality. People cannot be compared because they are so unique.
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What is the nomothetic approach?
Compares many people along the same dimensions/ traits.
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What is Allport's lexical approach to identifying traits?
All important traits can be captured by language.
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What is the difference between personal traits and common traits?
Personal traits are hierarchically organised and are used to differentiate ourselves from others. Common traits are a part of an individual's culture, and are shared due to biological/ cultural heritages.
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What are central personal traits?
These best describe an individual's personality, and in combination these best organise a person's behaviour.
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What are cardinal personal traits?
A single, overriding trait that can describe a person's behaviour.
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What are secondary personal traits?
Traits that are not often exhibited but may still influence behaviour.
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What are some practical uses for the California Q-set?
It is a many trait instrument, and can predict drug abuse, political orientation and depression (Block et al., 1991) later in life.
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Why is labelling traits seen as subjective?
It is based on what fits the behaviour best. Someone has to label it, but different people may give the same trait a different name.
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Card 2

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What is a personality type?

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People who have several traits in common belong to the same personality type.

Card 3

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What does the trait approach assume?

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Card 4

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What does the type approach assume?

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Card 5

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Why is the trait approach useful?

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