Personality Traits

By Gerald Matthews; Ian J. Deary et al. | Go to book overview

14
Conclusions

Achievements of trait research

Traits are alive and well. We contend that the research reviewed demonstrates that stable individual differences in personality are quantifiable and related to a variety of important criteria. Four key areas highlight the advances of contemporary trait research: psychometrics, biological bases, integration with mainstream psychology, and real-world applications. For each area, we will consider briefly both the accomplishments of trait research, and how future research might address remaining problems.


Psychometric issues

The current bullishness of trait psychologists begins with the slaying of the dragon of situationism, by exposure of the fallacies of Mischel's (1968) critique of traits (Eysenck and Eysenck, 1980), and increasingly sophisticated data on cross-situational behavioural consistency, cross-cultural generality and temporal stability (see chapters 2 and 3). We now have personalities again, and it is exciting to see their return (Goldberg, 1993). Furthermore, psychometricians have reduced competing structural models of broad 'superfactors' to a manageable number. Both Eysenck (1997) and proponents of the Big Five (Costa and McCrae, 1998; Saucier and Goldberg, 2002) have developed models with strong claims to validity, with some overlap with respect to the E and N factors. Possibly, the two models can be reconciled as alternative descriptions at different levels of generality, within a hierarchical personality model. Additional traits may also become elevated to superfactor status as research findings accumulate (Hogan and Hogan, 2002).

The way ahead is reasonably clear. At the psychometric level, advances in structural modelling are likely to provide better tools for choosing between alternative factor models. At the same time, most researchers agree with Eysenck (1992a) that psychometric evidence alone is insufficient to choose between different trait models. The development of internally consistent, stable trait measures, with good cross-cultural validity, such as those provided by the EPQ-R and NEO-PI-R, provides a solid platform for research on the predictive validity of traits. Traits are complemented by an increasing range of validated state constructs that may be

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Personality Traits
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Figures x
  • Tables xiii
  • Boxes xvi
  • Preface to the First Edition xix
  • Preface to the Second Edition xxiii
  • I - The Nature of Personality Traits 1
  • 1 - The Trait Concept and Personality Theory 3
  • 2 - Persons, Situations and Interactionism 39
  • 3 - Personality Across the Life Span 58
  • 4 - Stable Traits and Transient States 77
  • 5 - Alternatives to Trait Theory 112
  • II - Causes of Personality Traits 133
  • 6 - Genes, Environments and Personality Traits 135
  • 7 - The Psychophysiology of Traits 166
  • 8 - The Social Psychology of Traits 204
  • III - Consequences and Applications 239
  • 9 - Stress 241
  • 10 - Traits and Health 273
  • 11 - Abnormal Personality Traits? 294
  • 12 - Personality, Performance and Information-Processing 325
  • 13 - Applications of Personality Assessment 357
  • 14 - Conclusions 391
  • References 411
  • Author Index 482
  • Subject Index 487
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