Types and Traits


Types and Traits




Types and Traits

Basic Assumptions of the Trait Approach to Personality

Personality is a concept that is perceived to stress the unique attributes of an individual that he or she employs to create an idiographic view. On a general view, personality is defined as a dynamic organization included within a person in whom the psychophysical systems determine and define the individual’s behaviors and thought process (McLeod, 2014). It is in the idiographic view that concepts of personality entail three fundamental assumptions.

Personality Stability

The assumption suggests that individuals depict consistency in their actions, feelings, and thoughts irrespective of time and circumstance. In meaning, unpredictability becomes an exception instead of a rule, as it does not expound on the natures of personality. The ideal in the assumption is that a person remains who he/she is in the past, present, and future (McLeod, 2014).

Divergence between Individuals

The assumption argues that people with their personalities are composed of varying patterns of dispositional qualities that make them unique from each other. In meaning, the factors that compose a disposition such as the environment vary from individual to individual-structuring personality in divergent ways (McLeod, 2014).

Similarities in Traits

The assumption is found under the nomothetic view to personality that asserts that despite people having divergent qualities, there is comparability in the psychological meaning of their traits (McLeod, 2014). In meaning, people belong to the same trait continuum irrespective of their position differences. The assumption is based with the emphasis on the connection between nature and nurture. The environment is seen as central to personality development in the assumption as it shapes the trait continuum.

Difference between a Type and a Trait

Traits are the durable long-term characteristics of an individual. They are dimensions that are continuous within an individual (Matthews & Deary, 2008). For instance, extraversion and introversion are traits that are long term and continuous irrespective of circumstance or stage in life. Given that the individual falls, the location and the event structure how the traits will fashion his or her response. Traits have three hierarchy levels that are cardinal, central, and secondary as according to Allport (Matthews & Deary, 2008). Cardinal traits are those that shape behavior. Central traits are existent in varying degrees across all individuals determining major components of behavior. Secondary traits are initiated through stimulus activation expounding on why individuals may act in contrasting manners to their normal behaviors. In conclusion, traits are determinant factors of personality exhibiting various and diverse social and individualistic contexts.

Types are referred to as collections of traits that exist in groups or function collectively within an individual (Matthews & Deary, 2008). For instance, a person may be perceived as macho because of his independent, courageous, tough, and block physique. The types determine what is perceived as general masculine behavior. Types vary from person to person because they are constructs that exist in the thoughts of an individual. In meaning, the way an individual perceives his or her real world determine how types are constructed (Matthews & Deary, 2008). In addition, types are dependent on culture, time, and space of an event. For instance, mid 20th American culture is inclusive of Goths, geeks, gangster rap, hippies, nerds, and greasers. Most of these types are unknown to late 21st century cultures highlighting how types are inconsistent when compared to traits. Types are not continuous, thus do not represent long-term personality patterns.




Matthews, G., & Deary, I. J. (2008). Personality Traits. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

McLeod, S. (2014). Theories of Personality. Simple Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-theories.html


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