Psychology for Lawyers

understanding ourselves

temperament & personality traits


"Dispositional traits are those broad, nonconditional . . . and implicitly comparative dimensions of human individuality that go by such names as extraversion, dominance, friendliness, dutifulness, depressiveness, the tendency to feel vulnerable, and so on. . . . [T]traits are generally viewed as broad dimensions of individual differences between people, accounting for . . . consistency and continuity in behavior, thought and feeling across situations and over time. At their best, dispositional traits speak to the overall style of a person's adjustment to and engagement of the social world--how a person does things, how a person typically thinks, how he or she usually feels about things in general. If the momentary constellation of any person's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors make up his or her current state, then traits may be seen as the most common kinds of states that a person experiences across situations and over time. Personality traits provide a rough outline of human individuality, a first cut, a recognizable signature that a person tends to express in a range of situations (thought not in all) and over a relatively long period of time (through not necessarily forever).

* * * *

[P]ersonality psychology has made a strong comeback in the past two decades. Critics of the field once argued that situational factors swamp personality variables in accounting for what people actually do. But today evidence for broad consistencies in individual differences, their stability over time, their psychobiological underpinnings, and their efficacy in predicting important behavioral trends and life outcomes is pervasive and convincing. Once an endangered scientific species, the concept of the personality trait now enjoys a privileged status among personality researchers and an increasingly prominent role in studies done in social, developmental, cultural, and clinical psychology. Bolstering the scientific standing of traits today is the widespread acceptance of the five-factor model of personality, often called the Big Five. The Big Five organizes broad individual differences in social and emotional life into five factor-analytically-derived categories, most commonly labeled extraversion (vs. introversion), neuroticism (negative affectivity), conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to experience. The new trait psychology heralded by the Big Five is arguably the most recognizable contribution personality psychology has to offer today to the discipline of psychology as a whole and to the behavioral and social sciences."

--Dan P. McAdams & Jennifer L. Pals, A New Big Five: Fundamental Principles for an Integrative Science of Personality, 61 (3) American Psychologist 204, 207, 204 (2006)

"There are two important branches of personality psychology that together define personality as a discipline, individual differences . . . and the organization and interaction of variables within individuals . . . . Trait theory is of value for the first approach and largely irrelevant for the second. For purposes of classifying, screening, personnel selection and diagnosis, [an individual difference] approach has much to offer. For understanding how people operate, it is of very limited value. It stands to reason that if one wants to understand how people operate, it is necessary to examine how variables within them are organized and interaction with each other."

--Seymour Epstein, The Big Five Model: Grandiose Ideas About Surface Traits as the Foundation of a General Theory of Personality, 21 Psychological Inquiry 34, 35 (2010)

"If we see human beings as solely actors on a social stage, then the five-factor model is good enough. But if we wish to consider personality in a broader and deeper manner, from the standpoints of the person as motivated agent and autobiographical author, then the Big Five falls short."

--Dan P. McAdams & Keegan Walden, Jack Block, the Big Five, and Personality From the Standpoints of Actor, Agent, and Author, 21 (1) Psychological Inquiry 50 (2010)


Measuring the Big Five Personality Domains

An Introduction to the Five-Factor Model and its Applications
[Robert R. McCrae & Oliver P. John, 60 J. Personality 175 (1992)]

The 'Lawyer Personality' and the Five Factor Model
[Madeleine Deveson, Australian Centre for Justice Innovation]

Openness/Intellect: The Core of the Creative Personality
Victoria C. Oleynick,, Openness/Intellect," in Gregory J. Feist, Roni Reiter-Palmon l& James C. Kaufman (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity and Personality Research (England: : Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Big Five Traits Diagram:

Class Videos

Class Viewing: Jordan Peterson on the Big Five [49:36 mins.] [2017--Personality and Its Transformation Lecture 14] [begin presentation at 8:08 mins., end at 30:45 mins.] [introduction to the idea of personality and personality traits; personality traits are "describable elements of your being"; a trait might be considered as a subpersonality]

Basic Videos

The Big 5 Personality Traits [9:03 mins.] [Jordan Peterson] [See Jacob B. Hirsh, Colin G. DeYoung & Jordan Peterson, Metatraits of the Big Five Differentially Predict Engagement and Restraint of Behavior, 77 (4) J. Personality 1 (2009)] [for a brief description of the five canonical traits, begin presentation at 0:37 mins., end at 1:45 mins.]

Who Are You, Really? The Puzzle of Personality
[15:15 mins.] [Brian Little] [TED Talk] [end presentation at 6:27 mins.]

The Science of Personality
[14:35 mins.] [Brian Little interview] [2015] [begin presentation with Little's commentary on the background of the Big Five traits at 1:45 mins., end at 9:44 mins.] [Big Five theory has gained ascendance; Brian Little presents his doubts about the Big Five traits; explaining "free trait" (and accompanying behavior)" in contrast to the relatively fixed traits found in the Big Five; commentary on the idea of "personal projects" ("treating humans as humans"); the Myers-Briggs test (prompting us to talk about individual differences)]

Measuring Personality: Crash Course Psychology #22
[11:07 mins.] [end presentation at 4:46 mins.]

Reference (Jordan Peterson & Personality Traits)
(and his course, Personality and Its Transformations

Big 5 Personality Traits
[6:46 mins.]

The Big Five Personality [Traits]
[4:55 mins.]

Your Personality & Who You Can Become
[8:21 mins.] [comments on the Big Five begins at 1:59 mins., ends at 3:32 mins., outlining the Big Five; noting there are virtues and faults associated with each of the five personality dimensions]

Jung: Depth Psychology
[48:14 mins.] [commenting on psychological types and personality traits in reference to lawyers] [begin at 4:00 mins., end at 5:16 mins.]

The Big Five
[3:46 mins.] [September, 2017]
[21:36 mins.]


The Problem with Conscientiousness
[3:44 mins.]

Orderly People
[5:20 mins.]


The Dangers of Being too Agreeable
[4:46 mins.]


Entrepeneurs and Openness
[8:01 mins.]


Are You An Introvert or Extrovert?
[2:18 mins.]

Extroverts vs Introverts & Frames of Reference
[4:13 mins.] [traits can be conceptualized as subpersonalities; they can also be seen as frames of referenc; a frame of reference can be something akin to a micro-personality] [extroverts & introverts exist in domains of comeptence] [traits influence your value system, and your goals]

personality traits (misc.)

The Big Five Personality Archetypes
[4:55 mins.]

Cognitive Ability
[9:03 mins.] [frames of reference; micro-personalities; underlying biological systems; "we don't quite understand the relation of the traits to their underlying biology")]

personality traits & political orientation

Political Beliefs
[8:54 mins.]

Temperament and Politics
[4:26 mins.] [Jordan Peterson]


The Worst Thing a Creative Person Can Do
[4:26 mins.]

On How Creative You Are
[17:42 mins.]

The Curse of Creativity
[6:28 mins.]

Peterson's 2017 Personality and Its Transformations Course

2017 Personality 14: Introduction to Traits/Psychometrics/The Big 5
[49:36 mins.]

2017 Personality 15: Biology/Traits: The Limbic System
[1:18:57 mins.]

2017 Personality 16: Biology/Traits: Incentive Reward/Neuroticism
[1:13:37 mins.]

Peterson's 2016 Personality and Its Transformations Course

2016 Personality Lecture 10: The Psychobiology of Traits
[1:19:19 mins.]

2016 Personality Lecture 11: The Psychobiology of Traits
[54:57 mins.]

2016 Personality Lecture 12: Gender Differences: Agreeableness and Other Traits
[1:14:26 mins.]

2016 Personality Lecture 12: Conscientiousness: Industriousness and Orderliness
[1:15:45 mins.]

2016 Personality Lecture 13: Openness and Intelligence
[1:15:27 mins.]

Peterson's 2015 Personality and Its Transformation

2015 Personality Lecture 14: Intro to Biology & Psychometrics
[1:22:44 mins.] [begin presentation at 1:02:43 mins.]

2015 Personality Lecture 15: Biology & Traits: Limbic System & Lower Order Goals
[1:20:33 mins.]

2015 Personality Lecture 16: Conscientiousness I--Industriousness & Disgust
[1:12:21 mins.]

2015 Personality Lecture 17: Agreeableness--Aggression & Empathy
[1:16:30 mins.]

2015 Personality Lecture 18: Openness--Creativity & Intelligence
[1:23:11 mins.]

Peterson's 2014 Personality and Its Transformation

2014 Personality Lecture 14: Psychometrics (Biology and Traits)
[1:08:02 mins.]

2014 Personality Lecture 15: Limbic System & Goals (Biology and Traits)
[1:18:53 mins.]

2014 Personality Lecture 16: Extraversion & Neuroticism (Biology & Traits)
[1:14:48 mins.]

2014 Personality Lecture 17: Agreeableness and Gender Differences
[1:17:35 mins.]

Reference (Brian Little)

Being Oneself
[26:55 mins.] [interview]

Confessions of a Passionate Introvert
[18:21 mins.] [TED Talk] [reference to the Big Five traits at 1:58 mins,, going on to indicate that his comments will focus on extraversion]

Personalities at Work
[57:44 mins.]

Brian Little Presents Me, Myself and Us
[51:38 mins.] [Brian Little's presentation begins at 2:57 mins.]

60th Anniversary
[57:44 mins.]

Introverts' Night Out
[1:16:40 mins.] [interview begins at 3:10 mins.]

A Life Extraordinary
[8:24 mins.] [the capacity to throw yourself into something]

Big Ideas Profile
[10:26 mins.]

Reference (Temperament)

Jerome Kagan: On Temperament
[6:48 mins.] [Jerome Kagan is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University] [end at 5:45 mins.]

Jerome Kagan on Temperament
[16:21 mins.] [class presentation begins at 0:53 mins., ends at 4:34 mins.]

Temperament, Heredity, and Genes | Behavior
[9:27 mins.] [possible end of presentation at 3:26 mins.] ["temperament seems to be hard-wired into us"; hard-wiring has to do with inheritance]

Reference (Videos)

Big 5 Model
[3:45 mins.]

Introduction to the Five Factor Model of Personality
[3:59 mins.]

Personality: Trait Theory
[12:32 mins.] [Chris Dula, East Tennessee State] Pt2 [7:22 mins.]

Theories of Personality Big 5, Humanistic, Temperament
[14:42 mins.] [audio]

What's Your Personality Type?
[2:46 mins.]

The Big Five Personality Model
[2:53 mins.]

The Big 5 Personality Traits
[8:13 mins.] [the five traits are introduced at 3:18 mins. and ends at 7:36 mins.] [relates the five traits to winning]

Understanding the Big Five Personality Traits With Examples
[7:47 mins.]

Myers-Briggs and the Big 5
[2:42 mins.]

Introversion-Extraversion: Jung, Myers-Briggs & the Big Five
[27:05 mins.]

Reference (Wikipedia & Articles)

Big Five Personality Traits

Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed
[Larry Richard]

A New Big Five: Fundamental Principles for an Integrative Science of Personality
[Dan P. McAdams & Jennifer L. Pals, 61 (3) American Psychologist 204 (2006)]

The Lawyer's Paradox: The Link Between Personality and Psychopathology in Lawyers
Danielle Brenzina, 10 (40) Int. In-house Counsel J. 1 (2017)

Web Resources

Measuring the Big Five Personality Domains


Contact Professor Elkins