Trait theory | Behavior | MCAT | Khan Academy

Trait theory | Behavior | MCAT | Khan Academy


Hi, everyone. Welcome back. We’re going to be talking
about the trait theory today. So what better way to describe
individual personalities than by using traits? Well, the trait theory is a
very straightforward approach describe personality. We do it everyday. It basically defines
personality in terms of identifiable
patterns of behavior. So that is a key word. They are patterns of behavior. And I’ll explain
that in a little bit, into a little bit more depth. So it describes traits
instead of explaining them as in many other
personality theories. So this theory uses
description versus explanation, versus other theories
of personality tend to use explanation to
describe patterns of behavior. So what exactly is a trait? Now, if someone asked you to
describe your best friend, what kind of things would you say? Maybe that your best friend
was funny, caring, loyal, even-tempered? Well, all of these words
that I just called off represent traits. A trait can be thought
of as a relatively stable characteristic. So that is another
defining word. It is a stable characteristic. And what do I mean by stable? So it’s a stable
characteristic that causes individuals to
consistently behave in certain ways. So it has to be consistent. I guess that’s
synonymous with stable. So the combination and
interaction of various traits forms a personality. And that’s what’s unique
to each individual. No two people have the
exact same personality. We can even see that
within our families. Even though we share
many genes, we all have different
personalities because we all possess these different traits. Well, let’s get into
what different theorists of the trait theory have to say
in trying to describe traits. So, a little aside
over here, I found these personality tests
to be so fascinating, like the Myers-Briggs
personality type test. I don’t know if you’ve
taken it before. But basically, it
gives you a set of four letters
that categorizes you into one of 16
personality types. And then within each one
of those personality types, there’s a set of
traits and behaviors that you tend to dominate
in your everyday life. So anyways, if you
haven’t checked those types of personality tests
out, I highly recommend it. I know a lot of companies
use them for employment. And it’s just a fun way
to get to know yourself and your tendencies
a little better. I’m always curious. So individual trait
theories differ in terms of whether or not they believe
that all individuals possess the same traits. And I’ll get into
that in a little bit. And you’ll see why I say that. So let’s go through
the first theorist. His name was Gordon Allport. So what Allport said is that
all of us have different traits. He didn’t believe
that all individuals have the same traits. He said that they could
differ amongst individuals. And he actually
came up with a list of 4,500 different descriptive
words to describe traits. And that wasn’t
the original list. Apparently, the original
had over 10,000. That’s crazy. So anyways, from
those 4,500, he was able to come up with three
basic categories of traits. And the first one are
our cardinal traits. The second one are
our central traits. And the last are our
secondary traits. Now of these three,
the cardinal traits are the characteristics
that direct most of a person’s activities. So these are the
dominant traits, the ones that lie in
the cardinal category. For example, one person
may have a cardinal trait of selflessness, or
power motivation, but Allport says that not all
individuals have selflessness or power motivation. So that’s the key right there. Individuals have
some subset of traits from a universal
possibility of traits. But not all individuals
have the same traits. We mix and match. We all possess different ones. Now these cardinal traits
influence all of our behaviors, including the central
and the secondary traits, or dispositions, which influence
behavior to a lesser degree. So these are dominant,
and these are expressed at a lesser degree. So an example of
a essential trait is honesty or
sociability or shyness, which are less dominant
than these cardinal traits. And a secondary
trait is something like a love for modern art
or a reluctance to eat meat. And these are more
preferences, or attitudes. Let’s go to the second theorist. And his name was
Raymond Cattell. So now what Cattell did is
that he proposed that we all have 16 essential
personality traits. We all do. He said that they represent
the basic dimensions of personality. And he turned this into
the 16 personality factor questionnaire, or
16PF for short. That was his contribution. So he categorized
all of our traits into 16 personality traits
that we all possess. The third theorist
was Hans Eysenck. and what Eysenck did, his theory
is based on the assumption that we all have three
major dimensions. And these three major
dimensions of personality encompass all traits
that we all possess. But the degree to which we
individually express them are different. So this is different
from Allport. Again, Allport said we have
different unique subsets of traits. Eysenck is saying we
all have these traits, but we express them
at different degrees. So there’s three major
dimensions of his theory. The first is extroversion. So you know what that is. Extroversion versus
introversion, and that is the degree of sociability. The second is neuroticism,
and neuroticism is our emotional stability. And the third is psychoticism. Let me make sure I’m
spelling this right. There we go. Psychoticism is the degree to
which reality is distorted. OK, so I know I said Eysenck
said that we all possess traits that lie in these
three categories, but we display them, or express
them to different degrees. Well, there’s a
little caveat here because Eysenck said
that we all have varying degrees of
extroversion and neuroticism, but not necessarily
psychoticism. All right, moving on, the
last major theory trait is called the big five. And the big five,
again, is found in all people of
all populations. So the first major personality
trait in the big five is openness. Let me do this in
a different color. So the first is openness. And what I mean by openness
is that we ask the question, are you independent,
or are you conforming? Are you imaginative,
or are you practical? The second is conscientiousness. And that is a mouthful. So in conscientiousness,
we’re asking the questions, are you careful or careless? Are you disciplined
or impulsive? Are you organized
or disorganized? The third is extroversion. And in extroversion, we’re
asking the questions, are you talkative,
or are you quiet? Are you fun loving,
or are you sober? The fourth is agreeableness. And in agreeableness,
we’re asking the questions, are you kind, or you cold? Are you appreciative
or unfriendly? And the last we’ve
already seen from Eysenck, and that is neuroticism. So in neuroticism, we’re
asking the questions, are you stable or tense? Calm or anxious? Secure or insecure? So the best way I learned to
memorize the big five is using the acronym O.C.E.A.N,
O-C-E-A-N. Easy. OK, so Cattell, Eysenck, and
the big five all over here used something called factor
analysis to come up with this these
categories of our traits. So factor analysis is
a statistical method that categorizes and determines
our major categories of traits. And Allport’s theory
did not use that. He relied on different
procedures to determine traits. So basically, factor
analysis reduces the number of variables and
detects structure in the relationships
between variables. And we do that because we
want to classify variables. So in the past, probably at the
time of Cattell and Eysenck, all of this was
done out by hand. All the possible
combinations in determining the number of categories
of traits was done by hand. But now, we have fancy
computer software that can do all the math for us. And it’s what gives us these
final sets of variables or classification of
personality traits.

13 Replies to “Trait theory | Behavior | MCAT | Khan Academy”

  1. Secondary traits are traits that only come to surface in certain situations. For example, an outgoing person might become shy when faced with having to speak in front of a crowd.

    These MCAT videos are great but always keep another tab open to look at other sources of information. Sometimes these videos don't cover everything, or sometimes these videos might say things that can be misinterpreted.

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  3. I'm confused. Hans Eysenck proposed biologically based factor theory. Although he is also one of the people to established the five factor trait theory, McCrae and Costa were known as they investigated it and polished the theory.

  4. Thank you, Shreena Desai, you truly are the most refreshing person, I've heard in "youtube classes" haha! Certainly in a long time.

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