Personality Theory: The Trait Approach

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The Trait Approach
Another common way to study personality is through the lens of the trait approach. The trait approach focuses on the measurement of individual differences of both personality and behavior within each person (Funder, 2013). This approach attempts to assess how people differ, and how each individual is unique. To measure this, researchers often use personality assessments in order to understand what traits are common within a person, and how those traits, or absence of such traits, impact that person’s behavior. A popular personality assessment used is the “Big Five”, which are factor analytically derived dimensions of personality (Funder, 2013). The “Big Five” focuses on five main factors of personality: conscientiousness,
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This trait focuses on how orderly and self-disciplined a person is. Those who score high here tend to avoid risky behavior; they are less likely to smoke, to drink, and to overeat (Funder, 2013). Highly conscientious people also tend to strive for achievement, be organized, and have more disciple. Jane would be likely to score relatively low on this scale. With her frequent and excessive drinking, and her previous experimenting with illegal drugs, it is apparent that Jane does not always avoid risky behavior. Her frequent procrastination, and the little interest she has in actually doing school work shows that she is likely to have little self-discipline, and although she may enjoy learning, her little desire to put the work in to do well in class also shows a lower likelihood of striving for achievement. Jane, however, is relatively organized; she keeps her space often clean and orderly, but this is not the case at all …show more content…
By only observing Jane rather than interacting with her, and informing her of the purpose of this study, it is impossible to know for sure what Jane’s thoughts our feelings are. While I can make assumptions due to her behavior, I ultimately do not know for a fact how Jane is feeling unconsciously. Furthermore, with the exception of neuroticism, Jane would not be likely to score either extremely high or extremely low in any of the “Big Five” categories. While her personality fit well with a high score in neuroticism, she would be likely to score relatively average in the other categories. Even in conscientiousness, while she showed signs of scoring low, it still is not necessarily likely she would extremely low as other personalities would. Ultimately, I preferred the psychoanalytic approach to studying Jane. While this approach may require more inferencing, and difficulty to have exact answers, it gave a relatively large overview of Jane’s personality. This approach includes possible explanations for how Jane may act, including why she may use defense mechanisms, or why her she has more of an anxious attachment to others. The psychoanalytic approach also explains how some actions of individuals may be done unconsciously, meaning that that individual is unaware of how, or why, they are acting the way they do. This type of explanation was beneficial to this case study because, through

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