The Personality Theory of Hans Eysenck


Study conducted by most researchers has revealed that there are a virtually infinite number of possible traits that could be used by psychologists to explain personality. The numerical modus operandi of factor analysis, however, has established that exacting clusters of traits dependably associate together. Hans Eysenck has recommended that personality can be brought down or reduced to three major traits (Esyenck, 1990). Other researchers and psychologists disagree that additional factors are needed to sufficiently describe human personality. These include absurdity, prosperity and splendor. As a matter of fact, many psychologists have currently been leaning towards believing that five factors are sufficient to describe and explain human personality behavior.

Trait theory is an advance to the study comprehension of human personality as portrayed in psychology. Trait theorists and psychologists are for the most part interested in the dimension of traits. This can be defined as consistent prototypes of conduct, contemplation, and feelings. Therefore, it is significant to note that according to this perception, traits are comparatively steady over time. Moreover, they differ across individuals and influence behavior differently (Theories of Personality). This paper will discuss the three factor theory of Hans Eysenck. Moreover, it will discuss the particular aspects of the theory including the history of the theory, the cultural climate that helped shape the theory, key people that helped influence the theory, and application of the theory. To arrive at the conclusions statistical analysis was carried out in relation to the same topic of discussion.


Hans Eysenck, a professor in psychology, is one of the major contributors to the contemporary scientific theory of personality. He is also acknowledged as a radiant teacher who helped assist the understanding and treatment for mental illnesses. Eysenck, as a psychologist, also created and developed idiosyncratic dimensional model of personality. This was particularly based on factor-analytic reviews (Esyenck, 1991). By bravely attempting to anchor these summaries in biogenetic variation, Hans Esyenck managed to develop three theories that he considered unanimous in creating, shaping, understanding and describing personality traits among individuals. It should be noted that he is greatly remembered for that, even though other psychologists argued his stand and maintained that personality traits could be explained by more than three theories. It is therefore a matter of great significance to understand the development of this theory historically considering all the processes it has undergone to the modern theory.

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Hans Eysenck and other psychologists used factor analysis to identify personality traits, that is, comparatively stable dispositions of individuals. Factor analysis is a statistical method for bringing down a large number of items to a few more broad variables and/or factors. According to how Eysenck approached the personality traits, connections of the original, definite scores with the factors are known as factor loadings (Theories of Personality).  As a matter of fact, traits created through factor analysis may also be scaled from zero to a large amount or have two contrasting poles. This may include introversion and extraversion. Eysenck used an orthogonal rotation to develop his approach to personality traits. He also considered the fact that, for factors to have psychological meaning, the psychologist ought to rotate the axes on which the scores are designed.

In the year1951, Eysenck's foremost experiential study into the genetics of personality was publicized after being published (Esyenck, 1991). It was an investigation carried out whereby identical and fraternal twins, aged 11 and 12, were examined for neuroticism. It brought the psychologist to the conclusion that the factor of neuroticism is not an arithmetical objet d'art, but constitutes a biological component which is inherited as a whole. This brought into light the fact that neurotic predisposition is to an extreme extent genetically determined. This was the stepping stone for the theorist and his personality traits approach. The first two personality dimensions (traits), Extraversion and Neuroticism, were described in 1947 through the professor’s book published in the same year (The Personality Theories of Hans Esyenck).

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E and N (as the above two-Extraversion and Neuroticism are psychologically referred to) provided a two-dimensional unit to describe and explain individual differences in behavior. The diversity in personality traits can be related to how latitude and longitude explain a point on the face or surface of the earth. He also noted how the two personality dimensions were analogous to the four personality traits first proposed by the Hippocrates, the Greek physician.

In the late 1970s, based upon collaborations between the professor and his wife (Sybil B. G. Eysenck), the third dimension known as psychoticism, was added to the model (Esyenck, 1978). Just like neuroticism, high psychoticism does not signify that on is psychotic or doomed. To become so, it’s only that one exhibit some qualities frequently found among psychotics, and that one may also be more vulnerable, given certain situations, to becoming psychotic. This strengthened the development of the three theories to explain and describe personality traits.

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The most significant strength of Eysenck's model was to endow with in depth theory of the causes of personality traits.  For instance, Eysenck proposed that extraversion was attributable to inconsistency in cortical arousal. He went ahead to propose that introverts are exemplified by elevated levels of motion than extraverts and thus, are constantly more cortically aroused than extraverts. Correspondingly, Eysenck proposed that position within the neuroticism breadth was determined by personal differences in the limbic system. Therefore, is significant to conclude historically that while it seems counter-intuitive to presume that introverts are more aroused than extraverts, the supposed effect this has on personal behavior is such that the introvert looks for lower levels of inspiration (Theories of Personality). On the converse, the extravert seeks to intensify his/her arousal to a more constructive level by greater than before activity, social commitments and other stimulation seeking behaviors.

It is significant to keep in mind that the theory developed by the professor could not be up to date without the shaping of some cultural aspects and the by-then cultural climate. The environment in which Eysenck was born, grew up and developed the theory was quite worrying. However, in one aspect or the other, it helped shape the development of the theory. When the psychologist was born, there was the Germany war (The Personality Theories of Hans Esyenck). After that, his parents were divorced and he had to grow up in the hands of his grandmother. This clearly depicts the environment through which the scholar had to develop the personality trait theory. Hans Eysenck was an iconoclast who liked attacking reputable opinion.  He was an early on and dynamic columnist of the efficacy of psychiatric therapy. He also condemned the scientific nature of much of the scholastic varieties of psychology.

The by-then scholastic environment as seen by him, needed reinforcement, so, he saw the chance and took it to develop the personality trait theory.  As a hardcore behaviorist and psychologist, he felt that only the technical method could give an exact understanding of human beings.  As a statistician, Eysenck felt that mathematical methods were essential in the development of the theories (Esyenck, 1990).  As a physiologically lineated psychologist, he felt that physiological clarifications were the only legitimate ones. A close glance at these issues overtly represents the kind of environment that enabled the shaping of the personality traits.  To be exact, for instance, the use of two children in the very first test of the development process depicts the kind of society that the psychologist grew under. It means that in one sense or the other, the cultural climate was suitable and enabled the shaping of the personality traits to what is known in the contemporary world. All the theories developed and the corresponding dimensions were carried out empirically to come up with the desired results. It should be noted that this cannot be attained without the influence of some cultural aspects. Thus, it is prudent to note that the cultural climate during the development of the theories played a major role in shaping the direction which the conclusions were to be made. Moreover, the presence of other scholars also facilitated the development of the three dimensions.

As it has been mentioned earlier, the development of the theories would not have been a success without the help of other psychologist. During the empirical testing, Esyenck was assisted by a number of other scholars who offered there knowledge to help assist with the development process. During 1951, Eysenck's foremost experimental study into the genetics of behavior was published (Esyenck, 1991). It should be noted that this was an investigation and experiment carried out with his student and close associate Donald Prell. This was done from the year1948 to 1951. The two, together managed to come up with the two personality dimensions, namely; Extraversion and Neuroticism. Thus, Prell can be viewed as a key influencer of the theory.

In the late 1970s, the professor managed to develop is third dimension. However, this was through the collaboration between him and his wife Sybil B. G. Eysenck (Esyenck, 1978). Together, the two managed to add strength to the latter. Eysenck came to be acquainted with the fact that, even though he was using outsized populations for his research, there were some populations that he was not tapping. Moreover, he needed an extra hand n ensuring he managed the hefty piece of work. Thus, he began to take research into the mental institutions of England. When these stacks of statistics were factor analyzed, and with help of Sybil, a third noteworthy factor began to surface, which he labeled psychoticism.

Apart from such assistance, Esyenck managed to use the pioneering work of both former and current and former psycho-analysts to add substance to the development of the three dimensions. For instance, it can be noted that, he compared himself to Catell and came up with the following conclusions; Hans Eysenck was more apt to theorize before collecting and analyzing data. Catell, in his research work, collected data first, analyzed and later theorized. Secondly, Esyenck extracted fewer factors than Catell. Lastly, Esyenck used a wider range of approaches to gather data to be used in the development of the theories (Esyenck, 1991). Therefore, Raymond B. Cattell, in one way or another also influenced the development of the three dimensions. By looking at his former pioneering work, Esyenck was able to come up with the best strategy to enable him make the right decisions. Other scholars and psychologists cited in the development of the theories include Robert McCrae, Paul Costa, Junior and Hippocrates (Saul, 2003).

The development of the three dimensions and the theory at large has been applicable in most scientific and practical activities regarding the human behavior and especially in mental clinics. Eysenck contributions to fields such as personality by express and explicit commitment have been used by most psychologists who were there during his existence and those who have come after him to either expand on their scholarly work or during particular situations. It has been noted that, Esyenck worked in a mental clinic during the Second World War (The Personality Theories of Hans Esyenck). This means that, to one extent or the other, his three dimensional theory became applicable soon enough after it was developed. However, it should be understood that the application of this theory is not limited to the clinical area, but can also be applied in situations where psychologists and anybody else needs to understand human behavior. Apart form the theory itself, Eysenck believed that scientific procedures were requisite for advancement in personality trait. For instance, he applied factor analysis, a statistical method, (which other psychologists like Catell refuted) to support his personality model. This later turned out to be the best way to approach psychology related issues by the psychologists. It has since been the best method to approach behavior related issues in both the former and contemporary generation. Thus, it is significant to note that, the theory developed by Hans Esyenck on personality traits with the corresponding three dimensions is applicable to all humans and it can be used to explain, understand and describe the same behavior to the fullest.

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In summary, it can be concluded that there are almost countless number of possible traits that could be used by psychologists to explain personality. This has led to the development of various theories to try and explain personality traits. However, considering Hans Esyenck’s pioneering work, it can be noted that he came up with three dimensions to try and explain personality traits. These include Extraversion, Neuroticism and Psychoticism denoted by E, N and P respectively. On the converse, there are some psychologists who tend to differ with Esyenck’s work and assert that there are more that three dimensions that can be used to explain understand and describe human behavior to the latter. This does not, however, affect the greatness and the magnificence that the theory holds. Thus, with the help of other key resources including human, Esyenck has developed a theory that is even applicable to the modern world and can be used to describe any form of behavior.

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