Personality and Traits

Personality is a concept derived from behavior. We observe only behavior. We create names for that behavior to communicate among ourselves about the different kinds of behaviors that we notice. These names for behavior-honest, aggressive, hot-tempered, cheerful, serene, naive, creative, etc.-are often the same words we use to describe an individual's personality. Psychologists have studied these descriptive words, called trait names, to gain an understanding of the way personality is organized and maintained.
A traits is considered an enduring aspect of person's behavior, generally thought to be consistent across variety of settings and situations. Allport and Odbert (1936) found 17,953 English-language adjectives that could be used to described traits. Over the years, Cattell (1971) has attempted, through factor analysis, to refine and reduce these many trait term. (The Student Study Guide gives information about factor analysis. This precedure helps us see which variables go together and which variables are independent of each other.) By applying these techniques, Cattell has found the the 16 distinct factors, or basic traits, listed in following table.

Sixteen Basic Personality Factors

1 Reserved_________________________________ Outgoing

2 Less intelligent_______________________ More intelligent

3 Affected by feeling_________________ Emotionally stable

4 Submissive_______________________________ Dominant

5 Serious______________________________ Happy-go-lucky

6 Expedient_____________________________ Conscientious

7 Timid_________________________________ Venturesome

8 Tough-minded_____________________________ Sensitive

9 Trusting__________________________________ Suspicious

10 Practical________________________________ Imaginative

11 Forthright__________________________________ Shrewd

12 Self-assured___________________________ Apprehensive

13 Conservative__________________________ Experimenting

14 Group-dependent______________________ Self sufficient

15 Uncontrolled_____________________________ Controlled

16 Relaxed_____________________________________ Tense

Most of the trait names we commonly use to describe people are represented directly, or by synonym, in this list. Many test are designed to measure such traits. The Gordon Personal Inventory is aimed at "cautiousness," "original thinking," "personal relations," and "vigor"; the Edward Personal Preference Inventory is aimed at some of the needs described by Murray, presented in table below.

Need that affect a student’s work habit:
Orderlines: the need to arrange, organize, and put things away. To be tidy and clean. To be precise
Construction: a need to organize and build.
Conservation: The need to collect, repair, clean, and preserve things. To protect thing against damage.
Acquisition: The need to obtain possessions and property. To work for money and goods.
Retention: The need to retain possession of things. To board. To be frugal and miserly.
Cognizance. The need to explore, to read and seek knowledge. To be curious, to ask question.
Play: The need to relax, enjoy oneself, seek diversion and entertainment. To laugh and joke.
Exposition: The need to give information. To relate facts. To explain and demonstrate.

Need that affect a student’s Level of Performance:
Superiority: the need for excelence, ambition, made up of achievepment and recognition needs.
Conservation: The need to overcome obstacles, to do difficult task as well and as quickly as possible.
Recognition: The need to obtain praise and commendation. To seek distinction and honors.
Failure avoidance. The need to avoid failure, shame, humiliation and ridicule.
Conteraction. The need to overcome defeat. To depend one’s honor in action.
Exhibition: The need to attract attention to oneself. To excite, amuse or shock others.
Inviolacy: The need to preserve one’s good name. To keep immune from criticism. To prevent loss of self-respect.
Abasement: the need to surrender. To comply and accept punishment. To deprecate self.

Need that Keep People apart:
Dominance: The need to influence or control others, to lead, direct, and organize others.
Rejection: The need to exclude, snub, or ignore another. to remain aloof.
Defensiveness: the need to defend oneself against blame or belittlement, to offer excuses to justify one's actions.
Aggression: the need to assault or injure, to belittle, harm, blame, punish or ridicule another.
Autonomy: the need to resist influence or coercion, to strive for independence and freedom.
Contrariness: the need t act differently from others, to be unique and conventional.

Need that Hold People Together:
Affiliation: the need to form friendship and association, to cooperate, to join groups.
Deference: the need to admire and follow others, to cooperate and serve gladly.
Nurturance: the need to nourish, aid or protect another.
Succorance: the need to seek aid, protection, sympaty, to depend on help.
Blame avoidance: the need to avoid blame by obeying and inhibiting any asocial or unconventional impulses.
Similance: the need to agree and believe, to identify with others, to emulate or imitate.

The California Personality Inventory is intended to measure "sociability", "tolerance", etc. Almost all such tests are designed to locate people on trait scale so that we can say that Suzi Johnson is very "sociable", Henry Washington is extremely "cautious", and Mary Lowenstein is neither high nor low in sense of "personal worth".
A profile of scores from a personality test that provides such descriptions might look like the one presented in follow figure

The problems of defining, measuring, and interpreting personality tests, as well as an introduction to their variety, have been presented by Cronbach (1970). The rationale for using such measurements is that, when a teacher understands a student's personality, the teacher is better able to diagnose and prescribe for that student. Such trait scores should provide additional insights into student behavior.
But this logical, well established approach to traits and their measurement run into problems. Unless the environments we are dealing with are well understood, the consistency in behavior that is expected when we talk about traits may be largely illusory. The behavior of person with supposedly stable traits has not been studied nearly enough in different environments. Behavior is a function of both personality and environmental factors. B=(PxE).
Why can we consider trait consistency to illusory? Do not students, teachers, friends demonstrate consistency in their behavior? Actually, some contrary evidence may be found (see Mischel, 1973). Many correlations between an individual's scores on objectives test of personality, given at two different times, are relatively low. For projective test of personality (for example the Rorschach Inkblot Test), the reliability over time is even less. The low consistency may result from characteristic of the test (such as the number and content of the test items) or from genuine inconsitency over time in responding to even identical items. Prediction from trait tests to behavioral situations is also often poor.
But consistency in behavior does occur when situations are similar. Boisterousness at one school dance is likely to predict boisterousness at another dance. But when situation differ, consistency may be low. Boisterousness at a dance may not predict such behavior in the playground, on the job, or in family situations. We need to emphasize more that behavior is controlled, to a large degree, by the way reinforcement occurs in th eenvironment.
If expected consequences for the performance of response across situations are largely uncorrelated, the response themselves should not be expected to covary strongly, as they indeed do not in most empirical studies. when the probable reinforcing consequences for cheating, waiting or working differ widely accross situations, depending on the particular task or circumstances, the behavior of others, the likelyhood of detection, the probable consequences of being caught, the frustration induced, the value of success, etc., impressive generality will not be found (Mischel, 1973, p. 259)
We look now at a trait highly valued in our society and examine its consistency and specificity.

Gage, N.L & Berliner, David C.Educational Psychology. p. 178

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