Traits Theory by Curl Jung and Its Criticism


There has been interest among psychologists, more specifically the personologists, to find out about people’s feelings, beliefs, acts and perceptions. There has been interest to find out those traits that are broad and possibly genetically based as well as those that are peculiar and can change easily.

Trait Theories

Curl Jung theorized a number of paired traits he felt were inborn and genetically determined, where an individual could possess either but not the two (i.e. each pair of traits were opposite). Another term applied for the inborn genetically determined traits is temperaments. The first set in Jung’s theory was introversion and extraversion describing individuals on the basis of individuals’ preference of the world outside or inside them. While introverts preferred the world inside them and were more shy, had a distaste of social functions and loved privacy in addition to displaying other character traits to portray their preference of the world inside; extraverts, who formed most of the percentages of the human race, tended to look for the outside world especially people for their own pleasure. These people don’t tend to like being alone and like social activities. Since most people were extroverts, introverts were more likely to be viewed as abnormal and liking therapy, except in some cultures which had an emphasis of introversion. Although, according to Jung it was possible to learn to behave like an introvert if you were an extrovert and vice versa, switching over was impossible because introversion-extraversion was determined by a single gene (Boeree para2.). My previous boss was an extrovert and loved not only being around other top people in the organization, but also being close to the workers, and this helped him to establish the problems that could be affecting the company around us. Interaction, as well as relationships among employees, is very important because it helps in building teamwork. If the company boss has the quality, he is likely to influence the company through interacting with employees and junior managers and even emphasize teamwork among the employees. Another set was a category described as sensing versus intuiting people, based on the way individuals got their information. Intuiting individuals tended to acquire their information from intuition meaning they would be somewhat out of touch with the more solid aspects of reality but were likely to see the big picture behind the details better. These would be more artistic and can rather be philosophical. Sensing people were more realistic, down-to-earth, but tended to see things in simplistic, concrete, black-or-white terms (Boeree para5.). My boss was a more realistic person, acquiring information from facts about people, and had no interest in going around issues. This helped us to get direction on various issues relating to the feedback we gave about the job.

Another set describes individuals basing on the way they made decisions. While people Jung termed as feeling could make their decisions based on their feelings, the thinking category preferred solving the problems through reasoning, logic, step-by-step problem-solving. The latter would work well when dealing with physical objects but perform poorly when dealing with people, while the earlier would work well while dealing with people and poorly with physical problems. There has been a focus on gender in this context, with the theorization that many men tend to be thinkers and solve their problems in a step-by-step manner while the majority of women are feelers. However, Jung has been criticized by some who think the concept is apparently sexist. About a third of men are feelers and a third of women thinkers (Boeree para4.). Jung however argued that there was no reason to value thinking other than feeling. This concept can help in deciding organization leaders. My boss was able to deal with various people working in the organization because of their diversity to some level but utilized other staff. The trait of being more realistic and basing facts on thinking helped him solve many problems and critically analyze problems presented by the junior staff at work. The last concept was the set of judging people who tended to be more orderly, hardworking, always on time, and scheduled things very carefully. The perceiving group was likely to be more spontaneous and tend to do things as the spirit moves and mostly get nothing done though they can be more fun than the judging group. A test developed by Myers-Briggs basing on the letters I (introvert), E (extravert), S (sensing), N (intuiting), T (thinking), F (feeling), J (judging), P (perceiving) and can be used to describe individuals simply by selecting letters of the traits that described them in each set. For example ISFJ type of individual.

Other psychologists and researchers have differed on the concepts of Jung. Hans Eysenck utilized factor analysis-which was special statistics-to find the factors-trait dimensions-that carried the most weight. He developed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) using these test results. He saw traits as dimensions and not as either-or Jung. He developed a system to give a score of extraversion-introversion where a low score could indicate that you were introverted and a high score extroverted. Individuals could be halfway. High scores of neuroticism could mean that you tended to be nervous and emotional and that it was likely you would suffer from neurotic problems such as depression, compulsions, obsessions, and phobias than people who had a lower score. Psychoticism was a third dimension where a low score could indicate that one had no problems or tendencies of psychosis or problems in dealing with realities. Hans added this dimension after getting more data from those who were in mental institutions. A person who scored a middle point would be likely to take risks that other people aren’t likely to. The issue of having a mixture of traits theorized by Jung can be seen in my boss in that he could handle processes and work very well and at the same time solve issues relating to people.


The “big five” or the “five-factor” theory has emanated after re-consideration of the past research work of the likes of Hans, using computer technology. The aforementioned theory comprise of five dimensions of traits, namely, extraversion-introversion, emotional stability (reverse of Hans’ neuroticism), agreeableness (high score would indicate a tendency to being more friendly, otherwise idiosyncratic or difficulty in getting along with people)-these were likely to conform to other people’s principles and compromise on their own, conscientiousness (close to Jung’s judging-perceiving. High scorers were orderly, care about doing things right, arriving on time, and getting their work done while low scorers tended to be slacking off at work, didn’t worry about deadlines or neatness and would likely take it easy). A fifth dimension was described by a range of items which are culture, openness to experience or just openness. A low score on openness could indicate selectivity of things and not being open to new experiences, while a high score in openness could mean that the person could enjoy cultural pursuits such as dance, be more open to new experiences (Boeree para16.). These traits were also genetically determined (for example, Loehlin 23).

Works Cited

Boeree, G. (2009). General psychology: Trait theories of personality. Web.

Loehlin, J.C. Genes and environment in personality development. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992.

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