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Personality Traits as Patterns of Meaning Assignment Tendencies

Journal of Personality

Published online on


Objective The purpose is to present a new conception about the nature of personality traits based on the Kreitler Meaning System. The major constructs of the meaning system are referent, meaning value, meaning unit, and meaning variables characterizing the meaning unit. The individual's meaning profile is the set of meaning variables the individual uses as assessed by the Test of Meanings. Personality traits are defined as patterns of meaning assignment tendencies. Method After introducing the meaning system, the article describes the new conception of personality traits and presents the example of extraversion. Correlation coefficients of four different extraversion scales with the meaning profiles are analyzed. Results The findings enable defining the meaning profile of extraversion and validating it in view of the information available about extraoversion. Conclusions Implications of the new conception are providing insight into the structure, nature, and dynamics of a trait, a factor, or a cluster of traits; comparing traits; validating traits; describing interactions between traits; assessing traits by the Test of Meanings; assessing traits and anti‐traits; identifying traits; classifying traits; describing traits in interaction with other tendencies; and applying interventions for modifying traits. Applications concerning attitudes, cognitive performance, emotions, defenses, coping, and psychopathology are presented.