Six solutions to the circular nature of trait psychology

Jonathan P. Gerber*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This chapter explores non-circular explanations of personality. Trait psychology has sometimes used illogical, circular reasoning when trying to explain behaviour. Circularity is seen when behaviour is used to define a trait and then this trait being used to 'explain' the same behaviour. However, personality theory has also attempted to move beyond pseudo-explanation by offering many ways to jump outside the trait-behaviour circle. This chapter collates and critiques non-circular accounts of personality, focusing on biology, evolution, human development, learning, factor analytic accounts, and perception. It is recommended that researchers avoid substituting self-report measures for biological or developmental measures, that factor account analytic accounts not be considered definitional, and that greater care is taken to understand the items involved in measuring a trait.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPersonality and Individual Differences
    Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Assessment, and Application
    EditorsNiko Tiliopoulos, Simon Boag
    Place of PublicationHauppauge, NY
    PublisherNova Science Publishers
    Pages297-305
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Electronic)1611225884
    ISBN (Print)9781611220704
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Keywords

    • Circularity
    • Personality
    • Rejection sensitivity
    • Trait psychology

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