Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Concept: term for an entity with certain properties. The properties of an object correspond to the features of the concept. These concept features are necessary in contrast to the properties of an individual object, which are always contingent.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 96
Concepts/psychological theories/Allport/Carr/Kingsbury/Deary: Allport’s (Allport 1931)(1) (>Concepts/Allport) was not a lone voice in the inter-war years’ thinking about the conceptual nature of traits. Carr and Kingsbury (1938)(2) recognized that there were trait names in everyday life, that we knew what we meant by them in practical terms, and that they had been introduced to psychology.
They opened up by attempting a definition (p. 497): ‘A trait is a conceptual attribute or definition of the reactive nature of the individual. The nature of the individual is defined on the basis of certain observable behaviour characteristics.’ These characteristics, lexically, were nicely described: how an adverbial description of a response (acting persistently), can become a characteristic adjective if it is observed consistently (a persistent person), and how these can become abstracted from people as trait nouns (persistence).
Conceptual nature of traits/Carr/Kingsbury: If we knew the ‘organic conditions’ underlying traits we should probably define traits in those terms; but we don’t, so we use ‘behavioural correlates’.(3)
Deary: Carr and Kingsbury understood that some trait terms were universal, nomothetic. They saw that people could be located on a dimension made up from antagonistic trait names. They saw similarities in groups of trait words that would allow for groups of similar trait names. >nomothetic/idiographic.
For the philosophical discussion: cf. >projectivistic/detectivistic, >Euthyphro.

1. Allport, G. W. 1931. What is a trait of personality?. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 25: 368–72
2. Carr, H. A. and Kingsbury, F. A. 1938. The concept of traits, Psychological Review 45: 497–524
3. Ibid. p. 510

Ian J. Deary, “The trait approach to personality”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018

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