Do you know what the cardinal personality traits are? The cardinal traits are those that dominate the personality of a person to the point that it is recognized by those traits before other people.  Don Juan, for example, was so famous for his sexual exploits that his name became synonymous with heartbreakers and libertines. The young Narcissus of Greek mythology was so in love with his own person that his name became the root of the term narcissism or excessive personal obsession.

The personality traits that exist

The psychologist Gordon Allport wanted to find out how many personality traits exist in society. This psychologist suggested that there are no less than 4,000 different terms that can describe personality traits . After analyzing the terms, he developed three different categories in which these terms could be understood and also better understand people’s personalities.

1. Cardinal features

Cardinal traits were the most dominant, but also the rarest in people’s personalities. These traits are so intrinsically linked to an individual’s personality that the person becomes almost synonymous with those qualities.

Cardinal traits often develop later in life and serve to shape almost every aspect of a person’s purpose, behavior, and attitudes. Historical figures are often thought of in terms of their cardinal features.

Examples to understand it better

    • Mother Teresa is strongly associated with kindness and charity. Today, his name is virtually synonymous with those traits.
    • Adolf Hitler is associated with evil, and his name evokes the embodiment of cruelty and depravity.
  • Einstein is known for his genius, and today his name is often used as a synonym for brilliance.

2. The central features

Allport believed that core traits are much more common and serve as basic elements of most people’s personality.  If you think of the main terms that you could use to describe your general character; so those are probably your core traits. You could describe yourself as smart , kind, and outgoing. Those are your core features.

Allport believed that most people have between five and ten core traits and that most people contain many of these traits to some degree. 

Examples to understand it better

    • Honesty
    • Amiability
    • Generosity
    • Noble
  • Diligent

3. Secondary traits

Secondary traits were the third category of traits that Allport described. Such personality traits that tend to show up in certain situations. For example, you can normally be quite a carefree person, but you can have a worse mood when you are under a lot of pressure.  Such traits are often revealed only in certain situations. 

Examples to understand it better

    • A person who tends to display a cool demeanor may have a gloomy demeanor when hanging out with a toxic person.
  • A person who has a friendly demeanor can usually behave selfishly and anxiously in the face of competitions.

Some reflections

At this point, it is a good idea to reflect on the cardinal features to understand them even better. While cardinal traits are considered among the most dominant of the characteristics, they are also less common in people’s personalities. Few people are so governed by a singular theme that it shapes the course of their entire life … they tend to have more ‘generalized’ personalities.

In personality trait theories, it is suggested that each person’s personality is made up of a number of different characteristics. Although the first conceptualizations of the traits approach suggest that there are hundreds or even thousands of traits (as Allport said), other theories are currently being proposed that say that the personality is composed of fewer dimensions, 5 exactly .

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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