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Personality Trait Theories and Flynn Effect

Eysenck versus Gray personality theories

Initially, the personality theory developed by Eysenck was based on two main dimensions – extraversion and neuroticism (‘E’ and ‘N’ responsively); on their axes, the two were juxtaposed to introversion and stability (Nussbaum, 2013). The theory by Gray also relies on two dimensions (impulsivity and anxiety) that are studied in terms various neural systems (Nussbaum, 2013). At first, Gray’s theory was designed to study the clinical cases of anxiety only, but further, it was elaborated to address the issues of normal personality as well.

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The theories by Eysenck and Gray are similar as they focus on the impact of various internal and external stimuli on an individual and review the responses to these influences. However, the difference between the two theories is that Eysenck relied on biology while describing his dimensions whereas the theory by Gray is based on neurophysiological and neuroanatomical causes of anxiety (Nussbaum, 2013). Overall, the models can be applied to each other as Gray’s axe crosses those of Eysenck diagonally, so the high anxiety personality would belong in the neurotic introvert sector while low anxiety individual is a stable extravert (Nussbaum, 2013).

When it comes to the practical application of the theories, both of them became the bases for multiple researches with different methodologies. In this reference, the theory of Eysenck has not been supported by much evidence as extraverts and introverts showed diverse responses and advantages in a variety of situations, so the conditioning proposed by the theorist applies inconsistently (Leary & Hoyle, 2013). As for the arousal impact, Eysenck’s theory has been supported by evidence demonstrating that introverts are more responsive to arousing factors (Leary & Hoyle, 2013). The researches provide evidence that supports Gray’s model of reward conditioning that is stated to be more effective for extraverts (Leary & Hoyle, 2013).

Flynn effect explanations

Flynn effect is the phenomenon of the rising intelligence test scores throughout the generations (Weiner, 2003). The most challenging aspect of this phenomenon is that it breaks the widely accepted scientific belief that intelligence is a genetically inherited trait.

One of the most common explanations of this happening is the advancement of education. This point of view suggests that the modern education techniques and tools compared to those of the first half of the 20th century are more profound and effective, and as a result, they bring more positive outcomes. Another explanation views the phenomenon in terms of children’s development within families. In other words, as the size of the nuclear families reduced over decades (the families of the 1900s on average tended to have four children, and now the average number is two), the offspring began to acquire more parental attention.

The latter explanation is confirmed by the tendency that reveals better intellectual scores among the first born children as they receive more parental focus than the following ones (Robbins, Judge, Odendaal, & Roodt, 2009).

One more explanation suggests that the modern children are used to test-taking and are better at it than those of the 1930s, for example. The other factors contributing to the rise in the IQ levels over time are considered to be better nutrition and safer lifestyle (not as many health risks). Even though all of these hypotheses sound realistic, the one about the parental attention seems to unite many others (such as better nutrition in smaller families, better supervision care that leads to more advanced communication and learning at the earliest stages of development, as well as lesser exposure to health and environmental threats). That is why this point of view seems the strongest.

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Broad trait theories

There is a wide variety of personality trait theories; among them, there are Allport’s Theory that distinguished between three groups of traits, Cattell’s Sixteen Personality Factors Theory that focused on just sixteen main traits, Eysenck’s dimensions of extraversion and neuroticism, and Five-Factor Model that concentrated on five core features. The theorists are struggling to agree which traits are to be included in the theories. This happens because when tested in real life, the theories show an inconsistent response of the participants as it turns out that the presence of particular traits or even sets of traits does not guarantee certain behaviours (Reimann, 2008).

In addition, the behaviours of individuals are not dictated by their personality traits only, but by their environments and circumstances to which they react (Patton & McMahon, 2014). In other words, an individual’s behaviour is the result of the interaction of their personal traits and situational factors. That way, people with similar personalities may react differently to the same situations, or act similarly facing different circumstances. The theorists keep working on the theories that provide a better basis for conclusions and evidence generating new theories that rely on versatile factors as determiners of behaviours. However, the strong impact of the situation and environments makes the results unpredictable, so the researchers cannot find an agreement which traits to focus on as predictors to ensure stable data.

Reference List

Leary, M., & Hoyle, R. (2013). Handbook of individual differences in social behaviour. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Web.

Nussbaum, P. (2013). Handbook of neuropsychology and aging. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media. Web.

Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2014). Career Development and Systems Theory. New York, NY: Springer. Web.

Reimann, B. P. (2008). Personality and social psychology research. New York, NY: Nova Biomedical Books. Web.

Robbins, S. P., Judge, T. A., Odendaal, A., & Roodt, G. (2009). Organisational behaviour: Global and South African perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Web.

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Weiner, I. B. (2003). Handbook of Psychology, Educational Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. Web.

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