Trait Perspective




Part 1

Part 2

Part 3



Thousands of years ago, human beings began describing one another using traits. The first systematic attempt to do so was made by Hippocrates in ancient Greece. He described various types of human temperaments based on what he called bodily humors. The predominance of a humor such as blood or bile resulted in a typical personality type. For example, it was supposed that a person with a dominance of blood would be sanguine (defined as hopeful and cheerful) while a person with more phlegm (yuck!) would tend to be slow and apathetic. The melancholic (black bile) was thought to be sad and depressive while the choleric (yellow bile) was angry and irascible.

The idea that people possess measurable and relatively enduring traits has continued to the present day. A number of theorists fall within this perspective. For example, Carl Jung (who is actually considered a Neoanalytic theorist), Hans Eysenck, Raymond Cattell and Gordon Allport have all contributed to the trait perspective. A contemporary trait approach referred to as the "big 5" asserts that most of the basic traits of personality can be captured within only 5 dimensions - extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.


Read about trait theory and one trait theorist, Raymond Cattell.

Go to the web site and take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. This is a personality inventory that is similar to the MBTI; it will give you information on your personality type. Note: you will be asked if you want to spend money to obtain the full copy of your report; you do not need to do that for this assignment but you do need to print a copy of the short report you receive after completing the inventory. You will turn that copy in to your instructor along with an answer to the following question: What 5 traits do you possess in your personality?

Additional resources:

If you are interested in taking other online personality inventories, you can access a number of these at Or you may be interested in the 5 factor personality test.

If you are finished with this component, you may proceed to the Biological Perspective.