30 Aug 2022


Behavior Development: How to Encourage Good Behavior

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The trait theory also referred to as the dispositional theory is a physiological model used to study people’s personalities (Duane, 2013). The primary concern of this theory is to determine the extent to which a person’s character can be defined as a continuous pattern of thought, behavior, and emotions. The theory asserts that with time, the traits become stable, and they can be used to analyze a person. Subsequently, the characteristics are different across individuals, and they influence their behavior. For instance, we have people who are talkative and outgoing whereas some are shy and quiet. However, many theorists differ on the number of qualities one has to have to describe their individuality. Hence, we have many people who have tried to define this nature in broad fields. 

Gordon Allport (1897-1967) is one of the modern theorists on the personal trait theory. In conjunction with Henry Odbert, they worked on 18,000 names to describe the personality of people in two English dictionaries. With time, they reduced the list to 4500 describing words which they thought were fit to term the permanent and observable behaviors. 

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Allport structured the traits into a hierarchy of three levels. The first group consisted of the cardinal characteristics. These are behaviors which are dominant in a person and help in shaping their personality. For example, people have extreme characters that make them unique from others. This can be illustrated by the kindness of Mother Theresa or the cruelty of Adolf Hitler. They stand to be counted in what they contributed to the society. Passion is among the traits that can be identified. The cardinal characters are influential although a few numbers of people possess them. Rather, our behaviors consist of different characteristics. 

Next are the central traits. These are the general varying characters that everyone has. They include loyalty, kindness, and honesty, friendliness, lying or being jealous. These can be described as the essential developments in every person that shape our characters as we grow up. 

Finally, we have the secondary traits which are the bottom of the hierarchy. What distinguishes them from the other two categories is that they are not consistent or readily recognizable. However, they are abundant in people. Similarly, these behaviors are displayed by an individual during certain situations such as anger, happiness, preference or attitudes. For instance, a person who always comes can shout when angry or offended. On the other hand, a confident person may get anxious when talking to new or a large crowd of individuals. 

Hence, Allport put forward both the internal and external factors which led to the development of different personalities among the people. He termed them as genotypes (in borne behaviors) and phenotypes (acquired behaviors) respectively. Genotype is a special force that enables one to retain information thus helping in ruling the world. Whereas, phenotypes are external forces this forces helps people to conserve the environment and live in harmony. 

Analysis of Two Theories 

Apart from the personal trait model we have other psychological theories which have strived to analyze the human behavior. For instance, we have the psychodynamic theory (psychoanalysis theory). The approach was introduced by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). His studies focused on the unconscious processes that are manifested in and individual. Such include fear, wishes, desires which one is not aware of. We shall analyze the two by comparing and contrasting the two ( Cervone, & Pervin, 2015). 

Both theories focus on ways in which the human beings develop their personality. For instance, the trait theory of personality focuses on the ways in which a person’s characters combine to form their personality. Similarly, the psychodynamic theory centers on the internal conflicts within one’s mind which in turn shape their behavior. 

In contrast, the personal approach uses the phenotypes and genotypes in a person’s life as the determinants of their personalities. One has inborn behaviors or the people he or she associates with shape their characters. On the other hand, the Sigmund’s theory states that one’s behavior is as a result of the experiences they went through during childhood. Real experiences are likely to yield good behavior and vice versa (Gross, 2015). 

Allport has divided the traits into three levels. The central, secondary and the cardinal characteristics. Each of them has different aspects which determine behavior ranging from the dominant, general and the less obvious conducts. On the contrary, Freud has developed a three-part arrangement consisting of the ego, id, and superego. They are concerned with gratifying basic instincts, deciding to satisfy one's needs or follow the norms of the society differentiating between right and wrong. 

Personal Traits 

Human beings are characterized by five personal traits which are also known as as the big five personality traits. They include agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism, openness, and conscientiousness (Cobb-Clark, & Schurer, 2012). The models have tried to prove that only some traits are required to determine personality. Earlier theorists had submitted various attributes for behavior including Allport. After other researches, the five factor emerged as the best model in describing the personality blocks. These are discussed below. 


The trait is characterized by being easily excited, sociable, assertive, talkativeness and extraordinary emotional display amounts. People with the trait are outgoing and tend to find joy and energy in social events. Consequently, those who have little introversion are more reserved and have to use a lot of effort while attending social events. 


The personal aspect in this trait contains attributes that people have such as kindness, affection, trust altruism and other socially acceptable behaviors. Individuals with dominance in this trait are very cooperative, and they have a good temper. Those with little or none of the trait are always competitive and very manipulative. They are also very suspicious and antagonistic to other people. 


Individuals with the trait have high levels of thinking. Furthermore, they use this to have good impulse controls among themselves in the case of dangerous and annoying situations. The individuals have goals in life that they wish to achieve through good behaviors. People in this category are very organized and take into account all the details available. Such people are reliable. 


In this category, we have characteristics such as insight, curiosity, art appreciation, unusual ideas, and imagination. It depicts one's choices and preferences. Thus, this can be seen as a lack of focus. People dominated by the feature have an interest in a lot of things and are always ready to learn. For instance, they are creative and like adventures and mysteries. Furthermore, they like to pursue self-actualization activities for example gambling, living in different parts and skydiving. However, those in the lower parts have a more traditional and reserved way of doing various activities, and they struggle in matters which need complex thinking. Moreover, they seek fulfillment by enduring and persevering in different circumstances. 

We should note that the five traits highlight the behavior in two extremes when the character is in dominance and when it’s unrecognizable or not available in a person. Extroversion represents the scale between the two types of extraversion which is high extraversion and low introversion. Most people today fit somewhere at the polar ends of each dimension. The model was developed by many independent researchers by using various methodologies like sampling, questionnaires, and experimental settings. 


This character is associated with heavy sadness, emotional instabilities, and moodiness. Persons found in this category tend to experience irritability, depression, high anxiety and mood swings. Correspondingly, those low on the trait are emotionally strong and steadier. 


Various psychologists have come up with theories which have attempted to explain the process of human behavior development .the personal trait theory (dispositional) and the psychodynamic psychoanalysis) theory are some of the theories explaining this phenomenon. The theorists have similar and different assumptions which they have illustrated after much research. The personal scientists have divided the explanations into three categories. The cardinal central and secondary traits Moreover they have used the external and internal environments to explain behavior development. Subsequently, the psychodynamic theorists have arranged the developments according to the id, ego and superego segments. Further, they state that one’s childhood may have an effect on their behavior. With time theorists and other researchers have agreed on five personal traits which they deem as determinants of the personality of different people. They include openness, agreeability, Conscientiousness extroversion and neuroticism. Hence, we have managed to analyze the various issues which account for the various ways in which we acquire our personalities. 


Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2015). Personality . John Wiley & Sons. 

Cobb-Clark, D. A., & Schurer, S. (2012). The stability of big-five personality traits. Economics Letters , 115 (1), 11-15. 

Duane, P. S. (2013). Theories of personality . Wadsworth. 

Gross, R. (2015). Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour 7th Edition . Hodder Education. 

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