Personality Traits - Personality Traits Personality is the...

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Personality Traits Personality is the collection of characteristic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are associated with a person. Personality traits are characteristic behaviors and feelings that are consistent and long lasting. Traits vs. States Unlike traits , which are stable characteristics, states are temporary behaviors or feelings that depend on a person’s situation and motives at a particular time. The difference between traits and states is analogous to the difference between climate and weather. Los Angeles has a warm climate, but on some days it may have cool weather. In the same way, a person who has the trait of calmness may experience a state of anxiety on a day when he or she faces a difficult challenge. Ancient Greek Ideas The ancient Greeks believed that people’s personalities depended on the kind of humor, or fluid, most prevalent in their bodies. The ancient Greeks identified four humors— blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile—and categorized people’s personalities to correspond as follows: Sanguine: Blood. Cheerful and passionate. Phlegmatic: Phlegm. Dull and unemotional. Melancholic: Black bile. Unhappy and depressed. Choleric: Yellow bile. Angry and hot-tempered. The Greek theory of personality remained influential well into the eighteenth century. Cattell’s Sixteen Traits Like the ancient Greeks, modern researchers believe in the existence of a few basic personality traits. Combinations of these basic traits, they believe, form other traits. Psychologist Raymond Cattell used a statistical procedure called factor analysis to identify basic personality traits from a very long list of English words that identified traits. Factor analysis allowed Cattell to cluster these traits into groups according to their similarities. He found that personality is made up of sixteen basic dimensions. The Big Five Traits Other researchers have since clustered personality traits into even fewer categories. Today, many psychologists believe that all personality traits derive from five basic personality traits, which are commonly referred to as the Big Five: 1. Neuroticism 1. Extraversion 1. Openness to experience 1. Agreeableness 1. Conscientiousness The Big Five traits remain quite stable over the life span, particularly after the age of thirty. Although researchers identified the Big Five traits by using a list of English words, these traits seem to be applicable in many countries.
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Criticisms of the Big Five Model Critics of the Big Five have various arguments against the model: Some critics think that more than five traits are needed to account for the wide personality differences among people. Other critics argue that five traits are too many. For example, they point out that openness correlates positively with extraversion. These critics argue that just three traits— neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness—should be enough to fully describe personality.
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