Understanding Personality Dimensions
A trait is a characteristic pattern of behavior or conscious motive which can be self‐assessed or assessed by peers. The term type is used to identify a certain collection of traits that make up a broad, general personality classification.
Gordon Allport proposed that an individual’s conscious motives and traits better describe personality than does that person’s unconscious motivation. He identified three types of traits:
• Cardinal traits, such as a tendency to seek out the truth, govern the direction of one’s life.
• Central traits operate in daily interactions, as illustrated by a tendency to always try to control a situation.
• Secondary traits, such as a tendency to discriminate against older people, involve response to a specific situation.