trait theory


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trait theory

a form of personality theory which describes individual differences in terms of a number of relatively enduring independent traits. A trait is a bipolar construct (e.g. clever – stupid; mean -generous), often represented by a scale on which individuals can be rated. Trait theories vary largely according to the number of independent traits believed to be necessary to provide a complete description of personality. Personality inventories provide a picture or profile of these trait scores, derived from responses to self-report questions. Examples include the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) (Cattell, 1963), and the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) (Gough, 1957). Indirect measurement of traits is also possible (see PROJECTIVE TESTS). A complementary view of personality is provided by type theories which characterize individuals by one of a much smaller number of dominant traits or types (see EXTRAVERSION).