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Trait Theory Essay

As I began the process of preparing for this week’s assignments and I noticed that a great deal of emphasis was being put on personality trait testing, I have to say I was a little bit nervous as I have never really put much stock into those particular types of tests being very accurate. But after reading chapters 7 and 8 in our text Personality: Theory and Research, the article on Gordon Allport, and most specifically taking the self monitoring test myself and comparing the results given to what I already believed to be true about myself, I now have a better understanding about how these tests, along with an ability to gauge and monitor consistent patterns of behavior, feelings and thought (Cervone & Pervin, 2013, p. 232) can be a valuable tool in not only a scientific setting but in gaining self awareness.

I am writing this paper as a means of sharing my insights about personality trait theories as well as how these theories might help an individual gain insight into their relationships with themselves and others. I will also discuss the relationship between personality trait theories, psychoanalytic and humanistic theories and which of these are more effective in explaining human behavior. One of the largest insights I have gained through my research this week is the knowledge of the beliefs of Gordon Allport. His suggestion that the individual self is composed of the aspects that humans feel are the most essential interests me (Boeree, 2006).

By breaking down those aspects into seven separate functions, which include, sense of body, self-identity, self-esteem, self-extension, self-image, rational coping, and propriate striving (Boeree, 2006), Allport developed a means to better explain where human motives derive from. As we attempt to gain a firmer grasp on our ability to improve our relationships with friends, family and the people we interact with on a daily basis, as well as a better understanding of our own personality strengths and weaknesses, we gain needed insight by studying personality trait theories.

This gives us a better understanding of important areas that are key to healthy relationships. Two of those areas are communications and expectations. What we expect to receive from our relationships with others and how we communicate those expectations are vital in determining whether those relationships flourish or not.

Our personality type has a great impact on both of those areas so it is important to be aware of our traits, what to build on, and what to work on letting go of. One of the main differences between the personality trait theories and the other theories we have studied thus far, such as psychoanalytic and humanistic theories, is that the personality trait theory approach individual’s differences. Trait theory seems to be more focused on measuring an individual’s personality characteristics and less focused on generalized behavior on average. I believe that the trait theory falls short of the humanistic theory in many ways, but in particular, it doesn’t seem to give as good a glimpse into how we develop the most basic of our personality traits. It also lacks in its ability to be as accurate a predictor of future behavior.

In my opinion, trait theory seems to be more of a tool to put a name on certain aspects of our personality, while the humanistic theory gives us a better understanding of our personality. In conclusion, I hope that I have included in this paper a thorough description of the information I have gained through my excursion through this week’s learning resources. My goal was to give you my opinion on the differences between trait theory and the other personality theories we have studied and how important it is to be able to not only learn as much as we can about why we act the way we do, but to learn how to react differently in the future. I now believe that, through better understanding of the many different theories discussed in this course and not developing and one tracked mind, this can be accomplished. References:

Cervone, D., & Pervin, L.A. (2013). Personality: Theory and research (12th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Boeree, C.G. (2013). Personality theories: Gordon Allport. Retrieved September 22, 2013 from http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/allport.html

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