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Humanistic and Trait Approaches to Personality

            The trait and humanistic are rival and contradictory theories towards personality. To begin with, the background to each theory will be examined; then the failings of each assessed; and finally a judgement will be made as to the practical uses of each, with a conclusion following.
             Trait theorists propose that human personality can be explained through a scale of certain indivisible personality attributes - "prime traits". The balance of these basic human characteristics helps to explain human personality. Frequently these traits can be represented according to a set scale, e.g. from 1 to 100. This aids in the plotting of personality maps, from 2 or 3 dimensions, each representing one personality facet. Some theories suggested there were just 3 of these axes (Eysenck, 1992, 1998) whilst others proposed a 5 scale model (Norman, 1963.) Norman chose for his 5 dimensions extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience. Hans Eysenck contracted this to the axes of extroversion and neuroticism, later adding another - "psychoticism." By assessing personality on either of these criteria a reasonable model of that individual's personality can be mapped and hence behaviour predicted. To further subdivide these scales other dimensions can be added beneath each of the prime traits - the "factors" (Norman, 1963.) For example, Norman's factor of extroversion could be subdivided into the dimensions talkative or silent, frank or secretive, adventurous or cautious and sociable or reclusive. By additionally assessing these dimensions and their specific nature a better characterization can be gained.
             To contrast, the humanistic school of thought argues that human personality can be characterized by essential "wants" (e.g. desires for food, warmth or sex) which are driven by something lacking that must be fulfilled; and further positive goals - love, exhilaration or the satisfaction of completing a difficult task.

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