Psychological Traits vs. Personality Type Theory
In order to successfully sell a product you have to know who to sell it to. Therefore, being able to accurately characterize consumers is a crucial goal of marketing and consumer behavior research. But interest in creating these characterizations exists outside just the marketing world: developing systematic ways of describing people and their personalities has been a goal of psychology from its early days. From the begining, personality traits and personality types have been understood to serve different purposes in research. Over the years there have been many different theories regarding what personality is, how it arises and how we can categorize it. For example, Sigmund Freud was a proponent of psychodynamic theories, suggesting that personality is influenced by the unconscious and the progression through psychosexual stages, and B.F. Skinner advocated for behavioral theories that view personality as a result of individual interactions with the environment. One important (and ongoing) dichotomy in beliefs in this field is between type theory and trait theory. Like other theories in personality psychology, these two approaches attempt to systematically categorize people, but go about this goal in different ways.