When people think of a person's personality, they usually think of the person's most striking characteristics, as in an "assertive personality" or an "artistic personality." Psychologists define personality as the patterns of feelings, motives, and behavior that set people apart from one another.
Psychologists seek to describe personality characteristics and to explain how personality develops. They try to predict how different people will respond to life's demands.
Theories on Personality
The Trait Approach
A trait is an aspect of personality that is considered to be reasonably stable. We assume that a person has certain traits based on how the person behaves. If you describe a friend as shy, it may be because you have seen your friend looking anxious and trying to escape social encounters. Traits are assumed to account for consistent behavior in different situations.
Trait theorists have generally assumed that traits are somehow fixed or unchanging.
Gordon Allport - in the 1930s psychologist Gordon Allport searched through a dictionary to find every term that could describe a persons personality. He cataloged some 18,000 human traits from a search through lists of descriptive words. Some of the words, such as short and brunette, describe physical traits. Others, such as shy and emotional, describe behavioral traits. Still others such as honest, concern morality. Allport assumed that traits can be inherited and that they are fixed in the nervous system. He conducted thorough and detailed studies of individuals, noting their outstanding traits as well as their behaviors. He concluded that traits are the building blocks of personality. He believed a person's behavior is a product of his or her particular combination of traits (Allport, 1937, 1961, 1965, 1966).
The Five Factor Model
The "big five" refers to recent research suggesting that there may be five basic personality factors. These include extroversion - active, self expressive...