Personality Traits

Habitual patterns of behavior, thought and emotion are known as traits. The analysis of traits forms one aspect of modern psychology. Traits are more stable than states. Personality states are temporary periods that change often in response to a stimulus. For example, a person may habitually exhibit the trait of strong introversion on the spectrum of introversion to extraversion. On the other hand, someone may temporarily be in a state of anger.

To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.


Personality traits differ from theory to theory and from test to test. However, many in the field of psychology agree that traits fall into one of either three or five major categories. A three-factor model ascribes all traits to neuroticism (susceptibility to negative emotions), extraversion (social tendencies) and psychoticism (aggressiveness). A five-factor model expands this list to include neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness (desire to do what is “right”).

Several scholars devoted their entire careers to the study of personality traits and the tests used to identify them. Self-report tests are used by professionals and those curious to determine their personality style. Some common examples include the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Everyone lives and works within a social network. In order to work and live well, it is important to build and maintain good relationships. Self knowledge of one’s personality is the foundation to connecting better with others. If you have never studied the concept of personality style, you may wish to delve into it more using online resources or the many personality style workshops offered to the general public. Understanding yourself leads you to better understand others and build healthy relationships.

Images: “Puzzle” by Theodore C licensed under CC BY ND 2.0 ; “Myers BriggsT ypes” by Jake Beech licensed under CC BY SA 3.0