Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Personality Theories, Traits
Traits may make up the most readily recognizable component of personality. Very simple at base, traits describe what individuals are like, often with single words such as adventurous or kind . Although traits are used commonly, both in daily life and in research, surprisingly little is known about how traits work or how they influence behavior. Instead, psychology was dominated by 70 years of skepticism that traits influence behavior, or for that matter that traits even exist. Finally, after many years of empirical investigation, psychologists now know that traits do in fact relate to consistent behavior, although this consistency is not easily discernible in behavior on any given occasion. Furthermore, personality psychologists have discovered how traits may be organized, that traits predict a host of important life outcomes, and that traits increase in stability from adolescence through adulthood. Traits are an important concept in counseling psychology for at least three ...