Gordon Allport And Cardinal Characteristics

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Gordon Allport in 1936 found out that an English language dictionary alone contained more than 4000 words describing different personality traits. He categorized those traits into three levels. First are cardinal traits that dominate an individual’s whole life, often to the point that the person becomes known specifically for these traits. People with such personalities often become so known for these traits that their names are synonymous with these qualities. Allport suggested that cardinal traits are rare and tend to develop later in life. Then there are central traits which are the general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. These central traits, while not as dominating as cardinal traits, are the major characteristics you might use to describe another person. Terms such as intelligent, honest, shy and anxious are considered central traits. And the last are secondary traits which are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances. Some examples would be getting anxious when speaking to a group or impatient while waiting in line. After that, a psychologist Raymond Cattell worked on the same theory and reduced the number of main personality traits from Allport’s initial list of over 4,000 down to 171, mostly by eliminating uncommon traits and combining common characteristics. Next, Cattell rated a large sample of individuals for these 171 different
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