Six solutions to the circular nature of trait psychology

Jonathan P. Gerber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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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