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PSY 405 Week 4 DQ 1

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What are some dispositional theories? Which has had the greatest effect on studying
personality? Why?
There are several dispositional theories, which were created by Gordon Allport, Hans Eysenck,
Robert McCrae, and Paul Costa, Jr.
As Feist & Feist (2009) state, “To Allport, the most important structures are those that permit the
description of the person in terms of individual characteristics, and he called these individual
characteristics personal dispositions” (p. 381). Allport believed that there are different levels of
dispositions which he called, cardinal, central, and secondary dispositions. Cardinal dispositions
are not often held by most people. These are traits that are extremely dominating in a person’s
life and cannot be hidden. Next, central dispositions are the 5-10 personal traits in which a
person’s life is focused on. Lastly, secondary dispositions appear in a person’s life, yet they are
the least characteristic and reliable (Feist & Feist, 2009). Furthermore, Allport believed that these
traits are specific to the individual.
Next, Hans Eysenck’s dispositional theory was based on the concept of extraversion and
introversion. Feist & Feist (2009) note that “Extraverts are characterized primarily by sociability
and impulsiveness but also by jocularity, liveliness, quick-wittedness, and optimism” (p. 411).
On the other hand, Feist & Feist (2009) note introverts “can be described as quiet, passive,
unsociable, careful, reserved, thoughtful, pessimistic, peaceful, sober, and controlled” (p. 411).
These differences occur because of biological causes, which are due to the person’s cortical
arousal level. Eysenck believed that “because extraverts have a lower level of cortical arousal
than do introverts, they have higher sensory thresholds and thus lesser reactions to sensory
stimulation” (p. 411). Furthermore, to keep the desired level of stimulation, introverts stray away
from situations which entail large amounts of excitement.
Other theorists, such as McCrae and Costa discovered the five factors of personality. McCrae and
Costa believed similarily to Eysenck that a person’s personality traits are usually somewhere in
the middle rather than at the extremes of one trait. The five traits include: neuroticism (N),
extraversion (E), openness (O), agreeableness (A), and conscientiousness (C). These five traits
were the structure of personality.
It is difficult to say which theory has had the greatest effect on personality. If earlier theories had
not existed, the later theories may have been different. I feel that Allport’s theory was one that I
agree with the most. He believed that all people are individual’s and therefore have different
personalities, even though personalities are based off of genetics. However, later theories, which
took ideas from Allport had much validity as well. I think that by having a variety of theories,
theorists have been able to adjust previous thinking to formulate new theories.
Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009). Theories of personality (7
th
ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

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