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Tony Stark: Trait Theory


This paper represents a detailed analysis of Tony Stark’s personality that is performed in accordance with the trait theory. The author is going to link unique behaviors and personality traits from Avengers: Age of Ultron to Tony Stark’s character in the movie. The first section of the paper is going to dwell on the trait theory in order to help the readers gain an insight into how personal features could be important for character development. The importance of analyzing Tony Stark within the range of the trait theory relates to the fact that Iron Man has always been a dualistic character and his personal development nearly reached its climax in Avengers: Age of Ultron. This analytical paper is intended to prove that despite being narcissistic and turbulent, Iron Man is capable of sacrifice and emotion.

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Theoretical Background

Trait (dispositional) theory is one of the most popular approaches in psychology to study human behavior and personality. The key idea behind the trait theory is that every individual possesses unique ‘traits’ that establish their thoughts and emotions depending on the peculiarities of one’s personality (Jayawickreme, Zachry, & Fleeson, 2019). The followers of this theory believe that every ‘trait’ can be measured accordingly, allowing for a thoughtful evaluation of personality and its exclusive characteristics. Traits may become much more stable in adults, therefore, it is crucial to address human traits throughout the lifetime in order to gain access to the bigger picture (Harrison, 2017). Depending on the environment and societal influence, one’s traits and behaviors might change over time as well.

Tony Stark’s Trait-Based Analysis

The key three central traits characterizing Tony Stark are extraversion, intuition, and thinking. Throughout Avengers: Age of Ultron, the audience sees Stark as a person who is willing to attract as many eyes as possible to his inventions. Therefore, his self-acknowledging figure motivates him to create Ultron. As for Stark’s intuitiveness, it is also visible in his creations because he tends to invent something and then improve it until he reaches perfection (Rhodes & Wellman, 2017). He never accepts the world as it is because his main objective is to improve everything around him. Speaking of the thinking trait, Stark seems to be rather linear and logical – he deals with everything directly and rarely involves emotions in the process of decision-making.

Tony Stark’s essential cardinal trait that one may witness in Avengers: Age of Ultron is turbulence. Even though he tries to display himself as a person who lacks emotions, he always thinks about remaining responsible for all the deaths that occurred due to his prior actions (the creation of Ultron, in this case). He never states it directly, but he is a commander willing to minimize the damage given to people around him.

The Sokovia incident was a deeply touching experience that made Stark even more turbulent. Nevertheless, turbulence also represents a driver for Stark’s peaceful intentions focused on scholarships, clean energy, and other combat-free solutions. In order to assume the responsibility for prior incidents, Tony Stark gives up on his Iron Man ‘career’ and chooses to appeal to the audience by the creation and not destruction. Nevertheless, Stark’s appetite for self-destruction stems exactly from his turbulence and occasionally erratic decision-making.

As for the common traits, one of them deserves the most attention, which is Tony Stark’s prospection paired with the ability to make long-term decisions. Even though Stark represents the judging type and does not act impulsively at all times, his decision-making process is rather flexible, especially if the existing state of affairs calls for swift actions instead of thoughtful planning. Each member of the Avengers team seems to mimic Stark’s judgment capability in order to champion the situation and make even the most unlikely plans work (this will also be highlighted later in Avengers: Endgame) (Lievens et al., 2018).

Every goal that Stark sets tends to resonate with the remaining team members because he makes decisions that leave him five steps ahead. Even though Iron Man is turbulent, the Avengers regulate his negative outbursts and capitalize on his wittiness and thinking capabilities.

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The last two traits that can be mentioned when describing Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron are resourcefulness and assertiveness. He can be called resourceful because of countless backup plans and technologies intended to aid Tony Stark in supporting the Avengers initiative. Moreover, Iron Man is always coming up with solutions that go beyond everyone’s understanding of the situation, which makes him even more important for the team (Jayawickreme, Zachry, & Fleeson, 2019). Even though Stark is an opinionated individual, he is never arrogant. His assertiveness is what makes Iron Man’s personality so unique and relatable. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark is the only member of the team to worry about the long-term consequences of their fight with Ultron. These traits helped Tony Stark overcome self-destruction and become even more resourceful than before, causing every Avenger to become proactive and judging.


Harrison, C. (2017). Leadership theory and research: A critical approach to new and existing paradigms. New York, NY: Springer.

Jayawickreme, E., Zachry, C. E., & Fleeson, W. (2019). Whole trait theory: An integrative approach to examining personality structure and process. Personality and Individual Differences, 136, 2-11. Web.

Lievens, F., Lang, J. W., De Fruyt, F., Corstjens, J., Van de Vijver, M., & Bledow, R. (2018). The predictive power of people’s intraindividual variability across situations: Implementing whole trait theory in assessment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(7), 753-771. Web.

Rhodes, M., & Wellman, H. (2017). Moral learning as intuitive theory revision. Cognition, 167, 191-200. Web.

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