In order to understand traits, the term ‘behaviour’ must first be addressed. The term ‘behaviour’ is used to specify observable actions of an individual, such as the way things are done, the speech, the attire, the non-verbal actions, the tonality and the expression of contents.
When a person keeps behaving in a similar manner consistently, a pattern is derived, and this pattern is known as a trait. People’s behaviours are typically consistent over long periods of time. The emphasis here must be placed on being ‘typical’ as any person is capable of all emotions and we are addressing the ‘typical’.
Anyone may act out of character or in a unique manner depending on the situation. Such as John may flare up in office when he is usually a calm and composed person. However, it is because John had just experienced a breakup with his girlfriend on the same day, which is a reason that you may not know. This affects his overall behavioural pattern and acted out of character.
It is important to understand that all traits are neutral, there is no single trait that is better than any other. The difference in usefulness only surface when considering the situation, the role of the person in the situation, the person’s unique personal experiences, and the intensity the person is capable of mustering.
Typing vs Stereotyping
Stereotyping states for a fact that a person will act in a certain manner, no matter what the situation, not considering personal experiences, and personal values. Types on the other hand, states the tendencies of behaviours. In other words, not everyone from the same type will display all the behaviours in that category, even if all the behaviours in question are displayed between individuals from the same type, it is unlikely they will exhibit all the behaviours in the same intensity. We can only derive the possibility or the tendency of a person acting in a certain manner but can never say for sure without considering the individual’s unique personal experience and the situation in question.
Professional vs Private Environments
People experience fluctuation in behaviour all the time, especially when shifting from a professional to a private setting. This is most easily seen in the form of attire. When a person is at work, the person dresses professionally, and once the person knocks off, the person changes to a more comfortable set of clothes.
Depending on the environment and the situation the person is in, the intensity will be affected. Similarly, a person who is non-expressive at work may find it easier to express emotions at home, this is a mere shift in the person’s intensity and not a shift in the person’s trait.
Consider the example with Joe as a manager, Joe’s assertive trait will be higher when he is at work as he is required to direct and coordinate his subordinates as part of his job. However, Joe will be less assertive when he knocks off with his co-workers or when he is in a discussion with his superiors.
Competency, Moral Values, and Natural Protective Impulse
It is important to understand that a person’s competency, moral values and natural protective impulse are not able to be taken into context in any behavioural profiling tool as these factors differ from person-to-person and may be subjected to change in a short period of time.
By competency, we meant the understanding of a topic or subject and whether the person will know how to apply it. Such as a person may not know how to drive a car, however, the person can learn how to drive a car in the near future and the competency the person has on the subject had changed.
By moral values, we meant the core values that drive a person on a very fundamental level. Such as from a person’s religion or a fundamental social rule. An example is not to steal or kill, so no matter what you say over a cup of coffee, they will not do it, sometimes even if the situation allows (e.g., in wartime or time of anarchy).
By natural protective impulse, we meant the basic instinct in people. Such as a mother will almost always protect her child no matter what the odds are. It is just a basic human instinct.