Trait theory is an approach to personality theory in psychology.
The emotions, thoughts and behaviour patterns that a person has are typically referred to as a personality (Kassin, 2003) and can vary immensely between individuals. In making the area amenable to scientific enquiry some, using the statistical technique of factor analysis, have hypothesized that the personality contains prominent aspects that are stable across situations called traits. In particular, Eysenck (1967,1991) has suggested that personality is reducible to three major traits (3F) whilst others (e.g. McCrae and Costa, 1987) have suggested there are five (5F). There are other proponents who suggest there are more factors than this (e.g. Saucier and Goldberg, 1998).
The 3F model is comprised of the traits, ‘extraversion’, ‘neuroticism’ and ‘psychoticism’ whilst the 5F model contains ‘openness’, ‘conscientiousness’, ‘extraversion’, ‘agreeableness’ and ‘neuroticism’.