Understanding Personality Traits

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Personality Traits

Personality is fundamental to the study of psychology. The major systems evolved by psychiatrists and psychologists since Sigmund Freud to explain human mental and behavioral processes can be considered theories of personality. These theories generally provide ways of describing personal characteristics and behavior, establish an overall framework for organizing a wide range of information, and address such issues as individual differences, personality development from birth through adulthood, and the causes, nature, and treatment of psychological disorders.

In psychology, trait describes a characteristic that is unchanging and predictable. For example, shyness is a trait that is usually stable in an individual's personality. Another example is talkativeness. A child who is talkative is likely to continue this characteristic throughout the various stages of development.
There are some temperamental traits that researchers believe to be innate-that is, the infant possesses a basis for developing the trait at birth.
Other traits are acquired through learning, such as the tendencies toward tidiness or untidiness. Determining whether a trait is inborn or acquired is difficult, and many psychologists and others study various human traits to gather evidence to help provide insight into this question.
Some researchers are interested in the acquired traits that enable an individual to function effectively in society. These traits, known as socially adaptive traits, enable the individual to participate in society as a member of a couple, family, club, school class, or sports team. Examples of these traits are cooperation, motivation, and willingness to share. The counterpart to socially adaptive traits, socially maladaptive traits, prevent the individual from effectively participating in groups. Examples of socially maladaptive traits are deception, antisocial behavior , and extreme selfishness.

Personality traits:
Each one of us is born with inherent personality traits, meaning our biological genetic coding, that determine the way our brain develops and how our personality expresses itself. That is our core part. Our personality traits reveal themselves at a very early age and remain constant throughout our entire lives. They direct the way we act, how we think, and they establish our learned personality characteristics. Traits create our involuntary habits that determine the course our lives will take. They decide our preferred way of gathering information and how we draw conclusions from the information we take in.
Personality traits can be defined as;

"A complex pattern of thought, emotion, and behavior that is stable across time and many situations"

Traits are distinguishing qualities or characteristics of a person. Traits are a readiness to think or act in a similar fashion in response to a variety of different stimuli or situations. Traits are now more in favor than types. Remember, traits are continuous; types are categorical.

The trait of aggression is observed to be the most labile of all the traits. The stereotypic acts associated with this trait involve body posturing, gestures and eye contact of intimidation and deference, with individuals having this trait continually competing with each other on a scale of dominance and submission. The trait corresponds to a striving for power over one's environment, hence is one component of competitiveness or ambition. In a pejorative connotation the trait may reveal itself in the context of sadism or sadomasochism. The facial complexion is non-sanguine, i.e., tending toward sallowness or pallor in individuals of light skin color. The hallmark of the trait is a mass discharge of the sympathetic nervous system: the "flight or fight" response or the aggressive-vindictive rage. During the expression of this rage, the facial complexion of pallor is accentuated.

The trait of narcissism is noted to be less labile than that of aggression. The innate stereotypic acts associated with the trait include flaunting body posturing, expansive arm gestures, bowing, colorful self-adornment, and a natural attraction to the limelight of personal recognition. Individuals with this trait are competitive but non-aggressive in their strivings for recognition. The trait corresponds to a striving for glory in one's environment, hence is the second main component of human ambition. In a pejorative connotation the unbridled trait of narcissism may reveal itself in the context of conceit, exhibitionism, vanity and messianism. An associated innate facial expression is the radiant gingival smile (broadly exposing gums and teeth). The facial complexion tends toward blood red or ruddy in individuals of light skin color. Hallmarks of the trait include blushing, flushing, and a mass discharge of the parasympathetic nervous system: the narcissistic rage of defense and withdrawal. During the expression of this rage the normally sanguine complexion becomes even more florid.

The trait of perfectionism is not a basic drive of ambition and is not associated with a rage reaction. Rather it is a mediator of the unbridled drives of aggression and/or narcissism. The stereotypic acts associated with the trait of perfectionism are obsessiveness, compulsiveness, repetition, and the maintenance of neatness, order and symmetry. A clue to the nature of the trait lies in the compulsive, repetitive mannerisms of autistic children and some adult schizophrenic individuals. The behavioral pattern is often ritualistic and the speech characterized by echolalia. We posit that certain autistic and schizophrenic individuals are those in whom the two components of ambition, i.e., aggression and narcissism, have been suppressed by genetic or environmental factors, either congenitally, in childhood, or after maturity, thus reducing the individual to a primitive state of perfectionism.
The trait of perfectionism is defined as;
"A propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards"
or "A tendency to set rigid high standards of personal performance"

Introversion is defined as not being outgoing, keeping to yourself, and wanting time to yourself a lot. Introverts are impacted by family environment more than extroverts. Individuals who are quiet, reserved, thoughtful, and self-reliant are often referred to as "introverts." They are likely to prefer solitary work and leisure activities. The introverts would stay at home and that would impact them more than the children that are extroverts. Introverts tend to mull things over before formulating a reaction, and their energy is regenerated by time spent alone. Introverts like to "look before they leap," observing situations before they are ready to participate, and thinking things over before they speak. They are independent, introspective thinkers, turning inward to formulate their own ideas about things. They are more likely than extroverts to act differently in public than they do at home because they feel less at ease among strangers. They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and dislike interruptions. On an emotional level, they are likely to become absorbed by their own emotions and pay less attention to those of the people around them. They may also be more reluctant than extroverts to talk about their feelings.

Extroverts draw most of their energy from social interaction and respond to external stimuli immediately and directly. Extroverts are people who are often leaders, work well in groups, and prefer being with others to being alone. People who are extroverts prefer having company and tend to have many friends. Extrovert, can tolerate a higher level of cortical arousal and thus seeks out social interaction and exciting situations for stimulation. They need company most of the time.

Self-esteem is how good someone feels about himself or herself. "Self-esteem is how much a person likes, accepts, and respects himself overall as a person'" (Chubb, 1997). A person can either have high self-esteem and feel good about himself or low self-esteem and not feel good about himself. People with this trait posse a strong sense of self worth. They feel comfortable expressing their opinions, do not succumb to conformity pressures and generally reach their personal goals. Their personality characteristics indicate emotional maturity, good coping skills and a general satisfaction with life. They are friendly and can be quite forward and venturesome in their interactions with others.

Dependency is when a person relies on someone else to help him or her through day. Dependent people have a hard time doing anything by themselves. Grilo et al. (1998) researched young adults and adolescents psychiatric inpatients. According to Grilo et al. (1998), young adults have more dependency problems than adolescents. This was surprising since adolescents have more relationship problems than young adults. Adolescents are defined as 12 to 17 and young adults were 18 to 37. The two groups were given Personality Disorder Examination to see if they have personality disorders.

Empathy is the capacity to identify with another individual's situation or feelings. Its applications are broad. People with this trait understand the feelings of others. Overall, they are characterized by high extraversion and low anxiety. They are outgoing and enjoy social contact. They are warm and friendly and enjoy helping others. They are emotionally mature and generally satisfied with their lives. They are trusting of and patients with others.

The trait of apprehension is characterized by a vague fear or anxiousness about possible future occurrences. A relatively mild sense of anxiety about upcoming events, an uneasiness about future happenings. Apprehension is direct and immediate.

A trait referring to an individual's tendency of being dependent. People with this trait are unable to make decisions, lean on others for advice, guidance and support. Pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of, leading to submissive clinging behavior. A strong need for others to take responsibility.

Broadly speaking traits are consistent patterns in the way individuals behave, feel and think. For example, when we describe an individual as kind, we mean that this individual tends to act in a kind manner over time and across situations. Trait is any distinguishable relatively enduring way in which one individual differs from others.
Personality trait defined as a complex pattern of thought, emotion, and behavior that is stable across time and many situations. Personality traits influence the choice of words we use to communicate with others, as well as how we learn. Our personality traits are responsible for our brain functioning and its normal neuro-biological and biochemical reactions. They establish electrochemical dialogue that takes place between the brain, the endocrine system, and the physical body. Personality traits reveal themselves through a predominant color found in the human energy system. There are a number of personality traits but we've restricted our study to a few of them briefly.

More about this author: Nausheen Adenwalla

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