Personality traits may be defined as “the characteristics or dimensions of personality on which people
vary”. Traits can be thought of as falling along a continuum that ranges from traits considered by many
to be desirable (e.g., happy, self-confident, considerate) to traits that are often considered to be
undesirable (e.g., aggressive, spiteful, crude). Presented below is a list of some common personality
traits. The list is far from exhaustive and you should have no difficulty coming up with an additional
list of traits (for help, see any unabridged dictionary).
Passive Outgoing Unsociable Active
Careful Talkative Sober Optimistic
Thoughtful Responsive Rigid Impulsive
Peaceful Easygoing Moody Changeable
Controlled Lively Anxious Excitable
Reliable Carefree Reserved Aggressive
Successful completion of the paper assignment requires that you select one personality trait and then
review the relevant research literature (you can use PsycINFO, Google Scholar, EBSCO Academic Library,
or PubMed to look up articles in peer-reviewed psychology journals) in order to answer each of the
following questions:
1) How does the personality trait develop in humans? Where does it appear to come from? (25 pts)
(Instructions cont’d next page)
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2) What purpose or function does the trait appear to serve? (20 pts)
3) How does the trait affect the individual’s social behavior? How does the trait impact upon
interpersonal relationships? (25 pts)
4) [answer either (a) or (b) depending upon which alternative is appropriate] (20 pts)
(a) If the trait that you selected is closer to the desirable end of the trait continuum, then what methods
or techniques might be used to increase, or at least maintain at a high level, the quantity of the trait?
(e.g., make a person more self-confident). (Instructions cont’d on the next page)
(b) If the trait that you selected is closer to the undesirable end of the trait continuum, then what
methods or techniques might be used to decrease the quantity of the trait? (e.g., make a person less
aggressive).
The remaining 10 points will depend on writing mechanics, grammar, and adherence to APA style.
The paper should be typed, double-spaced, written in APA style, and 5-10 pages in length, not
including title page and reference list.
Please include at least three recent (dated no older than 2015) references from peer-reviewed
psychology journals. Additional references, including the course textbook as well as older articles, are
allowed in addition to the three recent journal articles.
All information obtained from journals, your book, and other sources must be correctly cited in
your paper as well as listed on your reference page, even if you are paraphrasing and not
quoting.

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