The humanistic trait model of Gordon Allport (1897-1967) was based on his profound belief in the uniqueness of every personality, as well as his conviction that individuality is displayed through dominant personal characteristics that provide continuity and direction in a person's life. He saw personality as dynamic, growing, changing, and based on one's perception of the world. Like other humanists, Allport believed that people are essentially proactive, or forward moving; they are motivated by the future and seek tension and change rather than sameness. In addition, each individual possesses a set of personal dispositions that define the person and provide a pattern to behavior.
Allport's approach is different from those of other trait theorists who have typically sought to categorize personalities according to a basic set of universal, essential characteristics. Allport referred to such characteristics as common traits. Instead of focusing on common traits that allow for comparisons among many people, Allport believed that each person is defined by a different set of characteristics. Based on his research, he estimated that there are four thousand to five thousand traits and eighteen thousand trait names.
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