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Classification Of Personality Type Approach And Trait Approach


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This article is explains the types of personality, personality is divided into to categories namely type approach and trait approach. This article explains the type approach as well as the trait approach.



Classification of personality


The approaches to study personality have been divided into two categories namely
  • Type approach and
  • Trait approach.


Type approach


Psychologists who believed in this approach are of the opinion that people can be divided into definite types.
Attempts to classify personality in terms of specific types go far back in human history. Hippocrates developed a theory of personality types based on the pre- dominance of one of the four humours or fluids of body they are blood, yellow bile, black bile, phlegm. Pre- dominance of blood leads to choleric personality, if the yellow bile is pre- dominant it leads to sanguine personality. Black bile indicates melanchotic, the pre - dominance of phlegm leads to phlegmatic personality.

Most recent theories have emphasized the relationship between body characteristics or morphology and personality. The best known theory of this type was the one given by Kretschmer. Kretschmer described the three types of physique he believed to be basic. The first type was the one short and heavy set and this was referred to as pytnic type, the second was called the athelic type which was divided as having a strong development of skeleton and muscle with wide shoulders and chest. The third type is called aesthelic who is slender in body build and tall.

From his study of mental patience Kretschmer found that certain body types are associated with certain types of mental disorder. For example pythic is associated with manic depressive psychosis. The aesthetic is associated with schzophrenia and the athletic if he were to be abnormal may develop mild manic depressive psychosis.

Sheldons classification is primarily based on Krehschmer's theory. He tried to correlate temperament with body type. According to Sheldon there are three basic types
  • Endomorph, a person of relatively large body and short arms and legs.
  • Mesomorph, harmoneously proportioned and mostly bone and muscle
  • Ectomorph, who has long arms and legs and often skiny.


An individuals body form is expressed as the degree of endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy which he shows. The strength of eac component is indicated on 7 point scale for example and individual who scores maximum in the first dimendion can be called endomorph in his score is 7 - 3 - 1. Another individual may have only 3 - 1 - 7 and he is called mesomorph. Yet another individual may have only 3 - 1 - 7 can be called ectomorph.

Sheldon classify temperaments into three types namely
  • Viscerotonia
  • Cerebrotonia
  • Somatotonia

Each of this can be measured by a 7 point scale.

Viscerotonia is characterised by love of comfort and food, sociability (friendly) and affection. Cerebrotonia indicates excessive inhibition and love of solitude. Somatotania indicates a craving for muscular activety. Sheldon found high corrilation between body types and temperament types. Thus endomorphy is closely related with viscerolonia, mesomorphy with somatotania and ectomorphy with cerebrotonia.

In spite of this laborious work, this theory is being much criticised and other investigators have not obtained the same results

Spranger classifies people according to a philosophy of life. It is assumed that people accept certain values which unify their personalities. He classified people into six types
  • Theoritical type : is more interested in intellectual persuit and discovery of truth. He becomes either a scientist or a philosopher.
  • The economic type is more interested in materially in useful things.
  • Aesthelic type is more interested in beauty and form.
  • The social type is interested in human relationships and virtues.
  • Political type is more interested in power and wants to influence people in every walk of life.
  • The religious type is interested in finding an ultimate meaning.


C.G.Jung's classification is based on concept of libido the life energy. According to Jung the people can be divided into two types namely introverts and extroverts. If the libido is flowing inward the individual is called introvert. In an extrovert the libido is flowing outward. A introvert tense to withdraw into himself inhibits emotions. An extrovert mixes freely with others and expresses emotions freely.
Later psychologists criticize the theory given by Jung, they added one more type namely 'ambivert' who has the qualities of both introvert and extrovert.

Trait approach second method


The measurable expect of personality is referred to as a trait. Traits are nothing but qualities found in a individuals behaviour usually adjectives are paired with opposites in order to avoid multiplicity of the qualities for example ascendence submission friendly hostile.

According to cattell traits are of two types namely surface traits and source traits, the surface traits are the qualities of misbehaviour that are observed directly in action for example restlessness, timidity, high emotionality source traits cannot be observed directly and they determine the surface traits for example the feeling of insecurity.
Other psychologist have classified the traits of personality as central traits and secondary traits. Traits approach tends to be to anlaytical and no analysis can do full justice to the most complicated and dynamic concept namely personality.
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