Trait theory and personal construct

The psychological survey of single differences traditionally has roots in the clinical, psychometric and experimental traditions ( Butt,2007 ) . Trait theory is based in the experimental attack. More late the phenomenological position has made headway into the survey of single differences, as demonstrated by personal concept theory ( PCT ) . This essay will get down by depicting trait theory and PCT, foregrounding the of import differences between the two attacks. An rating of the strengths and failings of the two theories will follow. Finally, each attack will be discussed in regard to the agency-structure dualism. This dualism is concerned with single ability to alter and whether this is as a consequence of personal bureau or social/biological constructions.

Trait theory was developed by Eysenck and Rachman ( 1965, cited in Butt,2007 ) and belongs to the mainstream, experimental attack to single differences ( Butt,2007 ) . The purpose of trait theory is to bring forth general rules of why people behave otherwise in different state of affairss. Questionnaires, for illustration Eysenck ‘s Personality Inventory ( EPI ) , are used to bring forth psychometric stock lists, which are a step of personality traits. This is a scientific attack, easing anticipation of how a peculiar individual will respond in a specific state of affairs. Other trait theoreticians ( e.g. Kant ) considered traits to be categorical. Their apprehension was that each person could be assigned to one peculiar class ; no 1 could be a mixture of two or more classs. However, Eysenck ‘s usage of standard analysis discredited this belief in classification, and suggested a continuum of traits. His apprehension was of persons being measured along a two continuums ; extraversion-introversion and neuroticism-stability. He proposed that a individual ‘s mark on these continuums allows anticipation of how they will respond in a peculiar state of affairs.

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Trait theoreticians believe traits are biologically determined and genetically inherited ( Butt,2007 ) . For illustration, Eysenck ‘s ( 1947, cited in Butt,2007 ) survey of soldiers in conflict helped him place his two, unrelated, personality dimensions: extroversion and neurosis. He believed these dimensions were “ behavioral looks of differences in biologically-based disposition ” ( Butt,2007, p.190 ) . Traits are hence considered to be reasonably stable differences between persons that are improbable to alter over clip or state of affairs ( Butt,2007 ) . Eysenck believed that the degree of extroversion and neurosis displayed by persons is due to differences in cortical and autonomic rousing.

Personal concept theory ( PCT ) , as developed by Kelly ( 1955, cited in Butt,2007 ) is a markedly different attack to single differences. PCT is based in phenomenology, and hence topographic points an accent on how each single positions the same thing otherwise ( Butt,2004, cited in Butt,2007 ) . The purpose is to derive an apprehension of lived experience, personal significance devising and the different universe positions held by persons. This attack sees persons doing sense of the universe by developing a set of personal buildings, based on their single experiences ( Butt,2007 ) . Kelly had no involvement in how persons score on personality dimensions, alternatively, the focal point of this attack is on recognizing the value of differing world-views.

In resistance to the trait theoretician ‘s belief that traits are fixed, PCT views concepts as being flexible ( Butt,2007 ) . This is non to state that concepts can be changed with easiness. Indeed, Kelly believed since persons invest a great trade in their buildings they frequently actively resist alteration, and as a consequence it can be hard to set buildings. Kelly designed the repertory grid to assist measure personal buildings. Much construing occurs without the person gaining it, but the repertory grid Acts of the Apostless as a tool leting persons to convey and measure personal significances, which would usually be out with their range.

Salmon applied the rules of Kelly ‘s PCT to learning and larning in schools. Salmon believed that schools need to admit kids ‘s bing concepts and utilize these to promote personal development. For this to be successful, kids must be cognizant of their ain concepts, so tools like Kelly ‘s repertory grid are really utile in this context. She went on to develop the ‘Salmon Line ‘ , which provided an effectual method for kids to specify their ain significances about their advancement.

Trait theory has been around for more than a century and has been capable to a great trade of review. PCT has non yet been put under such examination, so it is possible its failings have non yet been to the full explored. Trait theory is widely understood due to its similarities to how people assess others in mundane life ( Butt,2007 ) . In add-on to this, measuring tools, such as the EPI, are nonsubjective steps of personality, leting comparings to be drawn between big samples of persons. The findings of these surveies can be utile to the authorities and retail/campaign administrations who want to place general tendencies ( Hollway,2007 ) . Although extremely criticised, classification in the signifier of traits is utile in certain state of affairss, for illustration, in researching attitudes to smoking in an effort to advance behavioral alteration ( Butt,2007 ) .

However, trait theory has been extremely criticised ( Butt,2007 ) . Skinner ( 1974, cited in Butt,2007 ) points out that traits simply identify tendencies in behavior ; they can non explicate behavior. He believed mensurating traits merely re-describes behaviors, which is non really helpful. However, trait theories make good sense as most people have noted that people react otherwise in the same state of affairs, and frequently show consistency across state of affairss ( Butt,2007 ) . Yet Mischel ( 1968, cited in Butt,2007 ) argues there is really small grounds for this consistence in traits, proposed by Eysenck. He pointed out at that place is much grounds demoing that people can, and do, alter with experience. In add-on to this, Mischel suggests that instead than waiting to be discovered psychometrically, traits are constructed by the rater. He believed personality traits reflect the world-view, society and civilization of the rater, instead than anything about the personality of the single being rated.

There are of import power issues with trait theory, as with any theory which has roots in the experimental attack ( Salmon,2003, cited in Butt,2007 ) . A great trade of power is invested in those who measure and those who put the measurings into practise, for illustration, in making hierarchies in schools. Trait theory has besides been capable to misapply by alleged ‘experts ‘ who judge people against norms and competency hierarchies ( Butt,2007 ) .

Although objectiveness can be viewed as a strength of trait theory, it is besides a failing. Objective cognition is stripped from its context, so neither the power of the experimenter nor that of society is acknowledged ( Butt,2007 ) . The rules of trait theory mean it does non recognize possible for alteration, as traits are biologically controlled. This limits its ability to be used to help alteration, so this is a less practical attack than PCT. Another major unfavorable judgment is that causing can non be inferred by correlativity entirely. It is likely that societal constructions may act upon the biological science of an single, but trait theory does non take this into history.

Trait theory does non account for profusion of personality in the manner PCT does ( Butt,2007 ) . PCT uses phenomenological rules to concentrate on singularity of persons, depicting their elusive differences. This theory acknowledges both the person ‘s ability to alter, and the capableness of society to alter an person, heightening apprehension of how and why people change over clip and state of affairs. Not merely does this attack acknowledge that alteration is possible, it provides a model for farther alteration. For illustration, Salmon ( 2003, cited in Butt,2007 ) adapted Kelly ‘s PCT to ease acquisition. The Salmon line helps persons to put ends and do the alterations required to achieve them.

In add-on to this, the qualitative interview methods of this attack aid avoid the power of the research worker from impacting the findings ( Salmon,2003, cited in Butt,2007 ) . The interviewer should non summarize or presume single ‘s concepts. Alternatively they use tools such as the repertory grid to assist the single convey and measure their ain personal significances. Furthermore, Salmon ( 2003, cited in Butt,2007 ) challenges the labelling of persons by traits, which efficaciously empowers persons to be merely that ; single.

However, PCT besides has its critics ( Butt,2007 ) . Some would reason that without the kind of categorization gained by trait theories, those with serious conditions, for illustration autism, may non have the aid they need. Additionally, Kelly ‘s phenomenological attack suggests research workers need to set themselves in the places of their participant, in order to assist them convey their concepts, and later consequence alteration. However, this would be really hard, if non impossible in some fortunes, for illustration if working with a sociopath. It has besides been argued that PCT is a less influential attack than trait theories, as the findings are unable to be generalised to wider populations.

The agency-structure dualism is an of import consideration within all societal psychological positions ( Hollway,2007 ) . Agency relates to the extent to which persons are capable of exercising personal pick to do alterations in their lives. Structure refers to the extent that biological or societal factors determine an person ‘s life-world. Biological construction suggests that cistrons and innate physiological properties control our lives. Social construction suggests societal factors, such as gender or societal category, command our universes. This dualism is linked to the extent to which personality is considered to be fixed ( Butt,2007 ) . If personality is wholly controlled by biological construction so it is unchangeable, so bureau is non acknowledged in such theories. Some theoreticians suggest an interaction of bureau and construction determine an person ‘s life-world. For illustration, persons are considered to hold freedom of pick to alter their organic structures with diets ; nevertheless, societal constructions such as fiscal fortunes constrain these picks ( Finlay and Langdrige,2007 ) .

As antecedently mentioned, Eysenck ‘s trait theory suggests personality is wholly defined by biological construction ( Butt,2007 ) . Traits are biologically inherited and determined. This therefore suggests traits are fixed, and people can non alter throughout their lifetime, irrespective of their societal environment. There is no room for personal bureau in trait theory. Persons can non take to do alterations to their personality as biological traits are unconditioned and can non be changed volitionally.

PCT considers it impossible to split bureau and construction, as the person is viewed in relation to their societal universe ( Hollway,2007 ) . In maintaining with the phenomenological position, Kelly views persons as merchandises of society, therefore underscoring consideration of the societal universe in which persons are constructed ( Butt,2007 ) . Peoples are thought to actively make their universes through experiences and relationships. Understandings and concepts are derived from the societal universe, which suggests construction can curtail bureau. Kelly ‘s PCT hence views persons as holding partial bureau but besides as being partially determined by societal constructions. Agency and construction appear to interact in complex ways.

This apprehension of persons being constructed by the combination of bureau and construction agencies personality is viewed as mutable ( Butt,2007 ) . PCT suggests persons invariably change and adapt in response to their societal environment. Persons are considered capable of consciously and actively building significance and reflecting upon this to let them to continually do accommodations.

PCT positions bureau and construction as complementary ( Butt,2007 ) . Whilst persons are capable of altering themselves and their societal universes, societal construction besides clearly influences behavior. Persons have freedom to take significances from their experiences, to utilize in constructing personal concepts ( Butt,2007 ) . However, bureau is a merchandise of society and whilst single buildings of the universe vary, they are restrained by societal construction. Individual buildings are hence viewed as changing within a scope set by the society in which they are immersed.

Salmon ‘s ( 2003, cited in Butt,2007 ) application of Kelly ‘s PCT to larning in schools provides a good illustration of the complex interaction between bureau and construction. Personal alteration is required for acquisition and Salmon acknowledged this is hard for most persons, because they invest a great trade in their buildings. Learning can endanger their personal buildings of the universe. She used the Salmon line to assist persons reevaluate their buildings and fix to alter, leting them to accomplish their ends. This involves a great trade of personal bureau, as the person actively chooses to larn. This illustration can besides assist us understand how societal constructions interact with bureau. For illustration, British schools tend to put kids into hierarchies, efficaciously commanding what they can take to larn. This clearly shows how society can curtail the bureau of persons.

Trait theory, as developed by Eysenck and Rachman ( 1965, cited in Butt,2007 ) , is based in the experimental tradition and relies on psychometric proving to mensurate people ‘s personality traits on a continuum ( Butt,2007 ) . This attack views personality as biologically determined go forthing no chance for bureau or alteration. The findings of these surveies are nevertheless really utile to the authorities and administrations, by placing tendencies which can be generalised across populations ( Hollway,2007 ) . Kelly ‘s PCT has roots in the phenomenological attack, and is concerned with uncovering rich, elaborate histories of people ‘s personalities ( Butt,2007 ) . In contrast to trait theory, this attack acknowledges ability to alter throughout life. It proposes these alterations occur through interaction of personal bureau and societal constructions. PCT non merely recognises capacity for alteration, it has besides been used to assist design tools such as the repertory grid and Salmon line, to assist persons alter their buildings, for illustration when larning new things.

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