October 13, 2023

Trait theory

The study of human personalities has been an ever-evolving field, seeking to grasp the multifaceted nature of individual characters. While many models have emerged, such as the renowned Big Five and MBTI, there's been a distinct shift towards understanding personality through the lens of traits. This blog explores trait theory, its significance, and how external factors like professional development and organisational changes can influence traits over time.

At its core, trait theory emphasises that personalities are a combination of various characteristics that dictate how an individual responds to situations. Unlike typologies, which can be more rigid, traits offer a spectrum of possibilities. For example, instead of labelling someone purely as an extrovert or introvert, trait theory allows for a gradient understanding. A person might be predominantly extroverted but have moments or scenarios where they lean towards introversion.

An intriguing aspect of trait theory is its acknowledgment of fluidity. Traits aren't static; they evolve based on a myriad of external influences. Let's explore some significant factors:

1. Professional Development:

When individuals undergo training, attend workshops, or even acquire higher education, they often develop new skills and perspectives. This professional growth can be a catalyst for certain traits to evolve. For instance, someone initially low on assertiveness might develop this trait after leadership or communication skills training.

2. Job Change:

Switching roles or industries can greatly impact one's traits. A shift from a solitary research role to a team-based managerial position might amplify collaborative traits or even develop them where they were previously dormant.

3. Organisational Change:

The culture and ethos of an organisation play a pivotal role in shaping traits. If an organisation starts valuing innovation and creativity, employees might see a boost in their inventive traits. Conversely, a company merger or shift in leadership can induce more conservative traits if the new environment is more structured and less risk-taking.

While models like MBTI have their merits and have contributed immensely to our understanding of personalities, trait theory's strength lies in its adaptability. The beauty of trait theory is in its acknowledgment of the dynamic nature of personalities. As the world continues to change, with professional landscapes shifting and organisations constantly evolving, understanding the fluidity of traits becomes even more crucial. It serves as a reminder that growth is possible, and external factors play a significant role in shaping who we are. 

At TMS, the Team Management Profile stands as a testament to the evolving nature of personality traits. While it boasts high temporal stability, ensuring consistency in results, we've also observed intriguing shifts in preferences. Especially when external factors like professional development, job transitions, or organisational changes come into play, the TMP showcases the subtle yet significant adaptations in individual preferences over time. 

Such findings shed light on the ever-evolving landscape of personalities, underscoring the continuous need for tools that are both psychometrically valid and adaptable to the shifting professional terrain, especially as more individuals embark on varied and dynamic career paths.

For more information about the Team Management Profile, contact TMS today.

October 13, 2023