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Personality Traits Essay

2435 words - 10 pages

In psychology, personality traits could be explained from many aspects, and one of them describes personality traits as categorizations of people’s particular characteristics (Burger, 1997) while others hold opposite ideas that personalities are more unique and different for each individual depending on his or her peculiar life experience. The former idea relates itself to nomothetic approach, which is a quantitative approach that studies personalities that people share in common to find out a general law that applies to everyone. The nomothetic approach suggests that people show universal traits and that personality traits are consistent within humans. Gordan Allport first brought up this ...view middle of the document...

However, A journal in 1956 illustrated that idiographic approach is only valid in situations where no interrelationship have been explicitly mapped, which shows the limitation of idiographic method (Falk, 1956). And because of the subjectivity of the nature of idiographic approach, it is not very reliable. As a summary, it can be seen that idiographic approach is not the most effective way to understand individual’s personality in every case.
One of the most famous practices of the nomothetic approach to personality is the Big Five model of personality. The Big Five personality model has drawn people’s attention to individual differences in human personality over the past twenty-five year (John & Srivastava, 1999; Wiggins & Trapnell, 1997), and it helps to understand other personalities in a standard framework. The Big Five model is derived from empirical practice and it consists of five factors (1) Extraversion/Positive Emotionality, (2) Agreeableness, (3) Conscientiousness, (4) Emotional Stability versus Neuroticism, and (5) Openness/Intellect (Costa and McGrea, 1992), In this essay several examples of how the Big Five model indicates people’s behaviour are illustrated to analyze if the nomothetic approach is the most effective way to understand personality.
A recently conducted study has revealed the relation between the Big Five model of personality and dispositional optimism. Optimism is often interpreted as having positive expectations about upcoming events. According to former researches, optimistic indicates individuals are more satisfied with life psychologically and they tend to have better physical health. (Rasmussen, Scheier, & Greenhouse, 2009; Scheier & Carver, 1992; Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 2001). It is commonly accepted that optimism is related to the Neuroticism factor and Extraversion factor of the Big Five model and many researches have been done concerning this, however, there seems to be significant correlations between optimism and other major factors. (Sharpe, Martin & Roth, 2011)

In this study, there were five groups of sample participants. The study used seven instruments (Life Orientation Test; Worldview Personality Inventory Optimism–Pessimism Scale; International Personality Item Pool Optimism Scale; The Revised NEO Personality Inventory; NEO Five-Factor Inventory; Big-Five Factor Markers; Ten Item Personality Inventory). Data from multiple samples were examined, especially the ones of Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness in the prediction of optimism.
Results of the study clearly indicated that there are multiple relationships between optimism and the Big Five personality traits. The relationships were positively strong between optimism and four of the Big Five factors: Emotional Stability, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness (Sharpe, Martin & Roth, 2011). There is another study showing similar results. The study found that four different measures of...

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