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

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    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
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Electronic)1611225884
    ISBN (Print)9781611220704
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Circularity
    • Personality
    • Rejection sensitivity
    • Trait psychology


    Dive into the research topics of 'Six solutions to the circular nature of trait psychology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this