Hans Eysenck's Trait Theory of Personality: Analysis


Essentially physiology and genetics where mainly relevant in, Eysenck's theory Even though he was a behaviourist he considered that learned behaviors where of great importance, he also assumed personality distinctions grew out of the hereditary inheritance. Working within these regions of personality Eysenck discovered that there were two disciplines within psychology regarding personality. The first contains theorist who researched personality, interested in just developing ideas with very little empirical facts. The other used experimental research but had little or no interest in specific differences. This essay will critically evaluate Hans Eysenck's characteristic theory of personality.

Eysenck (1947) emphasized the importance of the two universities of personality studies; to be designed into one. However Eysenck's ideas summarized in having the ability to identify and measure the measurements of personality by using factor research where he devised a way to evaluate and test them.

Eysenck was for the most part a study psychologist, although he began investigating historical methods to personality, these included the task of Hippocrates and Galen; his rationale for this was to find the underlying development of personality. He found research that, suggested there could be variations in personality types. He used this information in his description of personality. This is what he used to build a personality inventory related to Galen's Four Temperaments.

However Eysenck's research provided a valuable additional compared to the four temperaments of Galen; by checking out and analysing the personality by means of dimensions, and made up from brains, physique and anxious system. Eysenck lay claim was meet with scepticism from other theorist when he said that there is a large biological determinant to personality. However his biological ideas have been accepted from natural research completed.

Eysenck surveyed thousands of people, by means of many various adjectives (characteristics) representing behaviour as well as types. Eysenck (1970) created a scalable style of his personality test. He collected massive amounts of research which made up of using questionnaires, with these he accumulated his data; this helped him create his characteristic theory of personality, however unlike Cattell who obtained his data first, then produced his theory previous, known as 'bottom up'. Eysenck began with the idea first and then created his data from his theory; this is excatly why Eysenck became known as a 'top down theorist. ' He used factor evaluation to obtain large levels of data, for example provide a long set of adjectives to a considerable amount of people. They are able to use these questionnaires to rate themselves on. Furthermore individuals who have high report in anxiety should theoretically answer on top of all stress and anxiety related questions as cited in Maltby (2005). Like this means only having to ask fewer questions instead of a hundreds.

Using the personality questionnaire participants were asked forty six questions where their answers represent a true representation of their personality. Eysenck only recommended two traits then added his psychoticism trait later after studding mentally sick patients this made up his three features of personality that are known today extroversion, introversion and psychoticism these he called super traits.

Costa & McCrae's (1976) developed this further with their big five model, Openness, extroversion, neuroticism conscientiousness & agreeableness. Eysenck's argued against agreeableness and conscientiousness declaring they belonged at less level in the hierarchy than psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism. Just as extraversion is made up of; impulsivity and sociability, so also psychoticism is made up of the factors agreeableness and conscientiousness. At the best level in the hierarchy are the ultra factors P, E, and N. These super factors aren't only psychometrically sensible, but also have a physiological basis that hasn't been said for the top Five.

Costa and McCrae's (1976) as cited in Maltby (2005) related two traits in their big five model, however Costa et al used cluster research rather than factor examination which revealed two main clusters which arranged with Eysenck's extroversion and neuroticism, they called these facets very much like Eysenck's dimensions. However due to the facets being narrow they guaranteed to form a range Costa et al created a new factor set to deal with this however now that lexical sampling was disappearing. Facet and factor were being measured; they added two new factors agreeable, conscientiousness with their original three which they took from Goldberg. Costa and Crae used questionnaires that have been known as the five factor style of personality (NEO-PI (R)).

Traits such as extroversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism Eysenck uncovered that individuals who scored high in extroversion also confirmed dimensions in their personality of outgoing, sociable, the way they preferred company of others noisy and outgoing. Whereas neurotics demonstrated proportions of shyness becoming unsociable favor their own company private and shy. Nonetheless when Eysenck learned his third trait; psychoticism this showed visitors to be cruel, frosty, impulsive, manipulative, etc. These kinds of personality may continue to develop mental conditions such as despair as well as schizophrenia unlike people who credit score low (warm, socialised).

Eysenck started out by observing a person's tendencies this he calls specific response, Eysenck used this to develop a hierarchical typology. For instance by observing someone talking with their friends and carefully monitor their specific replies, the more that this person spends conversing with the friends they provide away some of the habitual responses Eysenck thought that habitual replies are techniques individuals behave in certain situations. Furthermore he went on to claim that if you carried on observing them plus they may interact with others this might indicate that the individual likes to socialise, or they have a characteristic of sociability in their personality.

Eysenck argued these attributes such as sociability, liveliness, activity, assertiveness and sensation seeking are highly correlated. Simply put an individual's report on each of these traits are more likely to be related, these then commence to form a super characteristic of personality. Each super trait corresponds to a continuum which individuals can be positioned in order of the feature they possess.

Eysenck (1967) suggested that extroverts turn out to be psychically tiered easier; they get bored stiff easily and persevere significantly less than their counter parts introverts who. Matching to Kline (1983) added that on long monotonous jobs extroverts may begin much better than introverts however, not perform well in the middle and become strong towards the end of the duty. Whilst introvert work more gradually throughout. Eysenck (1967) recognized these ideas as well as Harkins and Green (1975) they discovered that introverts do much better than extroverts in vigilance duties involving prolonged periods of focus.

Eysenck (1967, 1990) as cited in Maltby (2005) became one of the first theorists to web page link biology to personality. He recommended that within the mind there are two group of excitatory and inhibitory neural mechanisms. The excitatory pertains to keep the person alert, dynamic and aroused. As the inhibitory mechanisms helps pertains to inactivity and lethargy. He continued to say the individuals try to maintain an sense of balance between theses excite and inhibit mechanisms and this has been discovered as ascending reticular activating system (ARAS). That is located in the brain stem; it connects to the thalamus, hypothalamus, and cortex. The ARAS handles the information or stimulation the brain receives. This is known as arousal matching to Eysenck's theory this is related to two circuits reticulo-cortical this circuit regulates the cortical arousal generated by inbound stimuli, as the reticulo-limbic circuit is dependable in how it manages arousal to emotional stimuli. Eysenck related arousal to his personality sizes, extroversion and neuroticism. Neuroticism includes personality traits for instance panic, worry and moody attributes, whereas extroversion has attributes of sociability, sensations seeking carefree and positive. Gray's (1970, 1981) theory began as a deviation to Eysenck theory but is now well thought-out and alternative theory. Grey's theory places emphasis that biological mechanisms relate to things they really want. Grays findings were based on animal research to study human personality. Gray put forward that personality is dependant on communication between your Behavioral Procedure System (BAS) and the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS). The BAS has a tendency to seek rewards whereas the BIS tends to avoid consequence.

Gray correlated his theory to two personality factors impulsivity and stress, people with high behavioral methodology show traits of impulsive, extremely stimulated and seeking rewards. Alternatively people who show low attributes in behavioral methods depict qualities not being impulsive furthermore individuals who have high attributes in behavioral inhibitions, can be anxious and make more errors.

In conclusion whenever we look at Eysenck's he shows us that his goals where to identify the proportions of personality, and by using factor analysis he was able to measure and test and described personality by how a persons comprises of intelligence, entire body. He developed a hierarchical view of personality with specific behavioral replies habitual of how we react to situations in the bottom and come together to make up personality attributes.



  • Maltby, J. Day, L. & Macaskill, A. (2007). Personality, Individual Difference & Cleverness. Essex: Pearson Education LTD.



  • Boeree, C. G. (2006). Hans Eysenck. Available: http://webspace. ship. edu/cgboer/eysenck. html. Last utilized 26. 02. 2010.
  • Richards, D. (2010). eysenck's personality inventory and the four temperaments. Available: http://www. odportal. com/personality/eysenck. htm. Previous seen 27. Feb. 2010.

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