Personality Traits

The Many Personality Traits Approach

Last updated:
04 Aug 2004

The Many Personality Traits Approach

Some theorists look at many traits at once when investigating personality. They try to determine which traits are correlated with certain behaviours, thereby gaining understanding of the underpinnings of various behaviours as well as the more general workings of personality. For example, personality research has investigated the relationship between personality traits and the ability to delay gratification, political orientation and drug taking.

For example, a study (cited in Carver & Scheier, 2000) found young children rated as being emotionally unstable, disobedient, domineering, aggressive, teasing, fidgety, restless, and susceptible to stress were found nearly a decade later at age 14 years to be more likely to be using illegal drugs.

The implication of using this many trait approach is you can get to have an understanding of what sort of personality underpins a certain type of behaviour (in this case drug-taking). The practical implications of this are that instead of anti-drug campaigns targeted at 14 year olds we should have campaigns at helping problem behaviours and susceptibility to stress at an  earlier age.