What Are Some Implications of Trait Theory?

Written by michael brent
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What Are Some Implications of Trait Theory?
Trait theory tries to explain why we act the way we do. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Psychologist have studied people's traits since the earliest days of the discipline, particularly in efforts to determine which traits are genetically predetermined and which are learnt. One of the earliest psychologists to study traits was Carl Jung, whose work led to the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory personality test, which divides traits into broad categories based on Jung's four functional types of thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition.

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Trait Theory

Our traits are what make us who we are, which is why traits are of such great concern to psychologists. Our traits can generally be seen in the way we interact with others. Psychologist Gordon Allport followed in Jung's footsteps and believed that each person has a small number of predominant traits. In each person, however, a particular trait will overshadow the others to become the dominant personality trait. Allport called these cardinal traits.

Task Suitability

Trait theory can be used to provide constructive information about a person's leadership skills in a variety of organisations. Trait theory allow an in-depth understanding of an employee's personality and the way his particular personality traits could potentially affects others within the organisation. Trait theory makes the manager aware of employees' strengths and weaknesses, and thus managers gain an understanding of how they can develop their leadership qualities.

Management Implications

Another implication of trait theory is that personality traits can influence how well or poorly suited a person may be for a particular task or job. For example, a shy, introverted person is unlikely to find success as a public speaker. Conversely, an extrovert with a need to be constantly surrounded by people would probably not be suited for a job as an overnight security guard. Ultimately, the trait theory implies that knowledge of your own personality traits can help you succeed at whatever your do, since you can make decisions that are consistent with your traits.

Other Implications

One of the key implications of trait theory is that our traits are unlikely to change, especially if we are genetically predisposed to some of them. Trait theory also implies that a particular trait can't be influenced by environmental factors. For example, a person might be shy and quiet when surrounded by strangers, and thus termed an introvert. However, the same person may be gregarious and talkative when surrounded by friends, thus displaying the traits of an extrovert. In this case, trait theory implies that a person will be either an introvert or an extrovert, while both traits are evident under different circumstances.

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