Standard Article

Personality, Trait Theories of

  1. Robert R. McCrae

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0671

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

McCrae, R. R. 2010. Personality, Trait Theories of. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. National Institute on Aging

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Personality traits are familiar to laypersons as enduring characteristics of individuals that distinguish them from others. Jane may be exuberant, energetic, and overbearing, whereas Jack is sober, steady, and reserved. Such distinctions are routinely made in everyday life and in literature, and they are facilitated by an enormous vocabulary of trait terms in English and other languages. Trait psychology consists of the scientific study of these characteristics, and trait theories of personality attempt to explain the development and functioning of the person primarily in terms of traits. Personality research is currently dominated by trait approaches, and much has been learned about traits in the past 30 years.


  • five-factor model;
  • lexical approach;
  • heritable;
  • stability