Critically evaluate trait theories of personality.
Critically evaluate trait theories of personality. "There are as many definitions of personality as there are personality psychologists" is what Sternberg stated about personality (Intelligence and Personality /Sternberg). Unfortunately, this statement isn't far from the truth. Personality is one of the most general and unclearly defined terms in psychology (Eysenck, 1957). This essay evaluates trait theories of personality on the basis of Block, Weiss and Thorne's (1979) definition of personality: Personality refers to "more of less stable internal factors that make one person's behaviour consistent from one time to another, and different from the behaviour other people would manifest in comparable situations". To begin with it will present a general description of trait theories. It then assesses trait theories on several levels of analysis. It begins by looking at the validity and reliability of assessment forms for traits and the resulting predictive value specific traits in people will have on behaviour. It then evaluates individual and situational factors that affect predictability. The extent to which trait theories can be used to predict behaviour and in which situations. An assessment of the practical application and benefit the development of trait theories has had in different areas follows. Finally trait theories of personality are compared to other