Trait Theory Assumptions P eople are born with inherited traits. Some traits are particularly suited to leadership. People who make good leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of traits.
Personality Traits Traits are relatively stable and consistent personal characteristics Trait personality theories suggest that a person can be described on the basis of some number of personality traits –Allport identified some 4,500 traits –Cattel used factor analysis to identify 30-35 basic traits –Eysenck argued there are 3 distinct traits in personality Extraversion/introversion Neuroticism (a personality trait characterized by instability, anxiety, aggression, etc). Psychotocism (Psychoticism refers to a personality pattern typified by aggressiveness and interpersonal hostility)
One of the earliest trait theories was introduced by Carl Jung. one aspect of the theory concerned traits that Jung felt were inborn. These inborn, genetically determined traits are usually called temperaments Later, two students of Jung's theory named Myers and Briggs - mother and daughter - developed a personality test based on Jung's temperaments called the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, or MBTI. It has gone on the become the most famous personality test of all time.
The First Trait Theory Two Factor Trait Theory of Personality UNSTABLE STABLE choleric melancholic phlegmaticsanguine INTROVERTED EXTRAVERTED Moody Anxious Rigid Sober Pessimistic Reserved Unsociable Quiet Sociable Outgoing Talkative Responsive Easygoing Lively Carefree Leadership Passive Careful Thoughtful Peaceful Controlled Reliable Even-tempered Calm Touchy Restless Aggressive Excitable Changeable Impulsive Optimistic Active
Melancholic: Sadness or depression; Pensive Choleric: Bad tempered Phlegmatic: Having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition. Sanguine: Cheerfully optimistic
The traits are seen as opposites, and the first set is introversion and extraversion. Introversion refers to a tendency to prefer the world inside oneself. The more obvious aspects of introversion are shyness, distaste for social functions, and a love of privacy. Extraversion is the tendency to look to the outside world, especially people, for one's pleasures. Extraverts are usually outgoing and they enjoy social activities, but they don't like to be alone. Jung believed that introversion-extraversion was either-or. You are born one or the other and remain that way for the rest of your life. Now you could, as an introvert, learn to behave more like an extravert, or, as an extravert, learn to behave more like an introvert. But you can't really switch. Nevertheless, it seems that introversion-extraversion is a very significant and fairly stable trait.
Next, we have the contrast between sensing people and intuiting people. Sensing types, as the name implies, get all their information about life from their senses. They tend to be realistic, down-to-earth people, but they tend to see everything in rather simplistic, concrete, black-or-white terms. Intuiting people tend to get their information from intuition. This means that they tend to be a little out of touch with the more solid aspects of reality - a little "flakey", you might say - but may see "the big picture" behind the details better. Intuiting people are often artistic and can be rather philosophical. Next, there's the contrast between thinkers and feelers. Thinking people make their decisions on the basis of thinking - reasoning, logic, step-by-step problem solving. This works very well for physical problems, but can leave something to be desired when dealing with something as complex as people. Feeling people make their decisions based on their feelings. While this doesn't work so well when trying to fix you car or your computer, feelings are a kind of intuition that works very well when dealing with people.
The last contrast is judging versus perceiving. Judging people tend to be more like Freud's anal retentive types - neat, orderly, hardworking, always on time, scheduling things very carefully. College professors tend to be judging! Perceiving people are more spontaneous. They prefer to do things as the spirit moves them. They are probably more fun than the judging types but, as you can imagine, they tend not to get things done. It often seems to us college professors that college students are all perceiving.
The Big Five personality Dimensions Extraversion—outgoing, sociable, assertiveExtraversion—outgoing, sociable, assertive Agreeableness—good-natured, trusting, cooperativeAgreeableness—good-natured, trusting, cooperative Conscientiousness—responsible, dependable, persistentConscientiousness—responsible, dependable, persistent Emotional stability—unworried, secure, relaxedEmotional stability—unworried, secure, relaxed Openness to experience—imaginative, curious, broad-mindedOpenness to experience—imaginative, curious, broad-minded OVERVIEW
The first Dimension is extraversion-introversion. The second Dimension is usually called emotional stability The third is called agreeableness. A high score means that you tend to be friendly and accommodating - a nice person. You don't need to be extraverted: If you are an introvert, but may score high on agreeableness. If you score low, you are likely to be more idiosyncratic and have trouble getting along with people. This is not entirely negative: Agreeable people often get their nice reputation by conforming and compromising on their principles, while non-agreeable people are more likely to stick to what they think is right even if it's unpopular. Then again, some are just plain disagreeable! The fourth is conscientiousness. This parallels closely with Jung's judging- perceiving. People who score high on conscientiousness are orderly, get their work done, Score low on conscientiousness and that probably means you tend to slack off on your work, rarely worry about deadlines or neatness, and are more interested in taking it easy. The fifth has come with several different labels, such as culture, openness to experience, or just openness. If you score high on openness, you are more likely to enjoy cultural pursuits such as art, music, dance. If you score low, you are more likely to seek out the known places, even when you are in Paris or Bangkok. BIG FIVE
Standardized personality tests determine how positively or negatively an individual scores on each of these dimensions. For Example, A person scoring high on openness to experience tends to ask lots of questions and to think in new and unusual ways. Not surprisingly, extraversion predicts performance for sales and managerial positions.
Evaluating Trait Theory Trait theory, especially the Big 5 model, is able to describe personality –Cross-cultural human studies find good agreement for the Big 5 model in many cultures –Appear to be highly correlated not only in adulthood, but also in childhood and even late preschoolers –Three dimensions (extraversion, neuroticism and agreeableness) have cross-species generality Problems with trait theory include: –Lack of explanation as to WHY traits develop –Issue of explaining transient versus long-lasting traits
Gordon Allport’s Trait Theory In 1936, psychologist Gordon Allport found that one English-language dictionary alone contained more than 4,000 words describing different personality traits. He categorized these traits into three levels: Cardinal Traits: Traits that dominate an individual’s whole life, often to the point that the person becomes known specifically for these traits. People with such personalities often become so known for these traits that their names are often synonymous with these qualities. Consider the origin and meaning of the following descriptive terms: Freudian, Machiavellian, narcissism, Don Juan, Christ-like, etc. Allport suggested that cardinal traits are rare and tend to develop later in life. Central Traits: These are the general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. These central traits, while not as dominating as cardinal traits, are the major characteristics you might use to describe another person. Terms such as intelligent, honest, shy and anxious are considered central traits. Secondary Traits: These are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances. Some examples would be getting anxious when speaking to a group or impatient while waiting in line.
Eysenck’s Three Dimensions of Personality British psychologist Hans Eysenck developed a model of personality based upon just three universal trails: Introversion/Extraversion: Introversion involves directing attention on inner experiences, while extraversion relates to focusing attention outward on other people and the environment. So, a person high in introversion might be quiet and reserved, while an individual high in extraversion might be sociable and outgoing. Neuroticism/Emotional Stability This dimension of Eysenck’s trait theory is related to moodiness versus even- temperedness. Neuroticism refers to an individual’s tendency to become upset or emotional, while stability refers to the tendency to remain emotionally constant. Psychoticism: Later, after studying individuals suffering from mental illness, Eysenck added a personality dimension he called psychoticism to his trait theory. Individuals who are high on this trait tend to have difficulty dealing with reality and may be antisocial, hostile, non-empathetic and manipulative.
Raymond Cattell’s Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire Trait theorist Raymond Cattell reduced the number of main personality traits from Allport’s initial list of over 4,000 down to 171, mostly by eliminating uncommon traits and combining common characteristics. Cattell then rated a large sample of individuals for these 171 different traits. Then, using a statistical technique known as factor analysis, he identified closely related terms and eventually reduced his list to just 16 key personality traits. According to Cattell, these 16 traits are the source of all human personality. He also developed one of the most widely used personality assessments known as the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF).
Assessing the Trait Approach to Personality While most agree that people can be described based upon their personality traits, theorists continue to debate the number of basic traits that make up human personality. While trait theory has objectivity that some personality theories lack (such as Freud’s psychoanalytic theory), it also has weaknesses. Some of the most common criticisms of trait theory center on the fact that traits are often poor predictors of behavior. While an individual may score high on assessments of a specific trait, he or she may not always behave that way in every situation. Another problem is that trait theories do not address how or why individual differences in personality develop or emerge.
TraitsSkills Adaptable to situations Alert to social environment Ambitious and achievement-orientated Assertive Cooperative Decisive Dependable Dominant (desire to influence others) Energetic (high activity level) Persistent Self-confident Tolerant of stress Willing to assume responsibility Clever (intelligent) Conceptually skilled Creative Diplomatic and tactful Fluent in speaking Knowledgeable about group task Organised (administrative ability) Persuasive Socially skilled Description Early research on leadership was based on the psychological focus of the day, which was of people having inherited characteristics or traits. Attention was thus put on discovering these traits, often by studying successful leaders, but with the underlying assumption that if other people could also be found with these traits, then they, too, could also become great leaders. Stogdill (1974) identified the following traits and skills as critical to leaders.