Trait Approach

We use the trait approach in our everyday lives to describe someone’s personality. Trait approach can be traced back to Hippocrates time when he developed the Four Temperament approach to classify people’s personality: happy, unhappy, temperamental, and apathetic. Gordon Allport was born in 1897 in Indiana. He was too young to play with his older sibling, he felt isolated and alone. Allport describes himself as “skillfull with words but not with sport or games”. He got his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. To visit his brother, he went to Vienna and that is where he met Freud. After their meeting, he believed that Psychoanalysis focuses too much on unconscious. He decided that he wanted his personality theory to focus on conscious or visible motivations which became his path of life. For his Ph.D., he did an experiment on the study of the Trait of Personality which he was rewarded for. His personality development in childhood was called the Unique Self.  He described the development into seven different stages: Bodily self, self-identity, self-esteem, extention of self, self-image, self as a rationale coper, propriate striving. In the first few years which Allport called the Bodily self, the infant does not experience any self-awareness because he/she has not yet separated “me” from everything else.  They are very reactive to external environment, and according to Allport, they are very pleasure seeking, selfish, impatient, and dependent. In the second stage, self-identity, Allport believes that children begin to realize their identity, and their identity is enhanced when they learn their name because that distinguishes them from others. In the third stage, self-esteem develops when they realize that they can achieve things on their own. During this stage, Allport believed that they children are motivated to explore, build, manipulate objects and behaviors. And during the extension of self stage, the children become more aware of the objects, people and the environment around them.   The stage of self-image occurs around the age of 4 to 6, when the parents make the children aware of their expectations. The second to last stage, self as a rationale coper occurs when they realize that reason and logic can be applied to problem solving. And according to Allport, the last stage of childhood is the propriate striving occurs when adolescents begin to form plans and goals for the future. Alllport believes that their sense of self remains incomplete until those goals are met.

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