Personality Theory Analysis the Trait Theory and Essay

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Personality Theory Analysis

The trait theory and the psychoanalytic theory are two theories that attempt to explain personality and behavior, but are two entirely different approaches. The trait theory approaches personality with combinations of personality traits and measurements of individual traits in attempting to explain personality and behavior. On the other hand, the psychoanalytic theory explores the unconscious through behavior, feelings, self-esteem, and social contexts in attempting to explain personality and behavior (Beystehner, 1998). Each of the theories have strengths and limitations in their approaches.

The trait theory assumes people are born with inherited traits and trait combinations combined with a degree of measurement of individual trait characteristics shape personality (Trait Theory, 2013) and are composed of a broad set of dispositions (Henriques, 2011). This theory groups individuals into personality type groups to determine individual behavior. One approach to this theory is the "Big Five," which uses the characteristics of extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness (Henriques, 2011). Extraversion explains the degree of positivity, approach to motivation, and sociability. Neuroticism explains the degree of negativity, avoidance of motivation, and emotional reactivity. Agreeableness explains the extent of getting along, warmness, sympathy, and understanding. Conscientiousness explains the extent of organization, responsibility, and achievement in motivation. Openness explains the degree of being open to new learning and experiences. The different personality groups do not necessarily have all the traits, but do have various combinations of these traits with varying degrees of each trait characteristic.

The trait theory focuses on the consciousness of self-awareness where traits are internal forces that drive behavior by freewill. Individuals gain self-awareness from what they value and believe is important to them. For example, if an individual has the trait of extraversion, it is important to them to
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be around others. Socialization is highly valued by the extrovert. To illustrate, research has shown that trait patterns predict behavior and explain personality (Buchanan, 1998). Buchanan (1998) found that interactions with team members in open-ended, unstructured tasks are more likely to influence personality traits than team members in structured, assigned tasks. This displays an example of how the freewill plays a part of the personality characteristics. When external deterministic forces are not involved, freewill uses personality characteristics to motivate individual behavior.

Where the trait theory has the strength in explaining how people think and behave, it has the limitations of ignoring uniqueness, culture and social contexts, character adaptations, and dispositional traits. It does not fully explain how individuals adapt feelings, goals, values, and individual strategies. Self-conscious identity of behavior as well as social and cultural contexts that help shape individuality are ignored. People can fake desirable responses and responses can stem from situations.

On the other hand, the psychoanalytic theory assumes personality is shaped by unconscious forces, childhood experiences, and childhood coping mechanisms in sexual urges (What is Personality?, n.d.). The concept is based on unknown causes of emotions and behavior. The psychoanalytic theory argues that personality has three components of personality. The id works under the pleasure principle and is primitive and instinctive. The ego operates under reality and is the decision making part of personality. The superego works under social standards of right and wrong and is the moral aspect of personality. Where ego and superego are in the conscious, the id is in the unconscious. In this respect the theory views both freewill and deterministic aspects of personality.

Under the psychoanalytic theory, self-awareness comes about from unconscious motivations for behavior when defense mechanisms are triggered from external forces. It explains that humans are not aware of self…

Sources Used in Documents:


Beystehner, K. (1998, Aug). Pshychoanalysis: Freud's revolutionary approach to human personality. Retrieved from Northwestern University:

Buchanan, L. (1998, Feb). The impact of big five personality characteristics on group cohesion and creative task performance. Retrieved from Virginia Tech:

Henriques, G. (2011, Apr 11). Another Big Five for Personality. Retrieved from Psychology Today:

Legrand, R.W. (1989). Alleged behavior indicators of sexual abuse. IPT, vol. 1, Retrieved from

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