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:
- 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.
- 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.
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