The difference between a state and a trait - work psychology

The difference between a state and a trait

Terms

 

People often get confused about the difference between a trait and a state. In psychology and particularly work psychology there are clear distinctions between a state and a trait:

  1. A trait is considered to be something that is part of an individuals personality and therefore a long term characteristic of an individual that shows through their behaviour, actions and feelings. It seen as being a characteristic, feature or quality of an individual. For example someone who says ‘I am a confident person’ or ‘I am just an anxious person’ is stating that is these attributes are part of who they are.
  2. A state on the other hand is a temporary condition that they are experiencing for a short period of time. After the state has passes they will return to another condition. For example someone who says ‘I am feeling quite confident about this interview’ or ‘I feel nervous about doing this’ are describing states.

However working out what is really a trait and what is a state can often be difficult and is the content of much scientific argument at times.

 

Back to The Oxford Review Encyclopaedia of Terms

Disclaimer: This is a research review, expert interpretation and briefing. As such it contains other studies, expert comment and practitioner advice. It is not a copy of the original study – which is referenced. The original study should be consulted and referenced in all cases. This research briefing is for informational and educational purposes only. We do not accept any liability for the use to which this review and briefing is put or for it or the research accuracy, reliability or validity. This briefing as an original work in its own right and is copyright © Oxford Review Enterprises Ltd 2016-2019. Any use made of this briefing is entirely at your own risk.

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