Status of the Trait Concept in Contemporary Personality Psychology: Are the Old Questions Still the Burning Questions?

Małgorzata Fajkowska*, Shulamith Kreitler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This special issue of Journal of Personality addresses one of the cardinal concerns of personality psychology, namely, the status of traits in contemporary personality science. Trait theory is a major scientific model for personality explanation and research. Although there have been critiques of traits, typically formulated from the point of view of the social-cognitive perspective, the trait approach can be viewed as a continuously developing paradigm. However, personality psychology persists in tackling burning questions concerning the status of traits that need to be answered. Modern trait approaches confront problems such as constructing an objective personality traits assessment, connecting the descriptive traits with explanatory processes, applying traits for understanding the individual person, clarifying the relation of traits to behavior, and using traits for solving cardinal concerns of personality psychology (e.g., personality organization). This special issue presents examples of contemporary trait theories that attempt to provide possible solutions to these issues and/or delineate other main issues to be resolved by future research and theorizing. We have asked contributors to portray their approach and describe in what way their trait theory continues a historic tradition and in what respect it breaks with the past and moves trait models to more mature scientific levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • contemporary trait approaches
  • fundamental concerns of trait psychology
  • nature of traits


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