Personality as Trait Dimension


  • The trait approach sees human characteristics as lying along a hypothetical continuum from less of the trait to more of the trait, and each person can be described in terms of his or her standing on this continuum.
  • Extrovert________________Introvert

The Normal Distribution

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  • If we were to measure a large number of people along a trait, we will find that the scores are normally distributed (you need to understand this expression)

The trait approach assumes that traits are stable over time in a person, and consistent across situations.

The Normal Distribution

Special Features of the Trait Approach

  • The trait approach is interested in predicting the typical behavior of people who score within a certain segment of the trait continuum- such a low in social anxiety, or high in social anxiety.
  • The approach enables to compare across people, such as low or high in anxiety.
  • The approach does not attempt to predict the behavior of a specific person.
  • It describes personality, but does not attempt to explain it the underlying mechanisms of traits.


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