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A characteristic or quality distinguishing a person or (less commonly) a thing, especially a more or less consistent pattern of behaviour that a person possessing the characteristic would be likely to display in relevant circumstances, typical examples being shyness, honesty, tidiness, and stupidity. The US psychologists Gordon W(illard) Allport (1897–1967) and Henry S(ebastian) Odbert (1909–95) carried out an exhaustive dictionary search (published in the journal Psychological Monographs in 1936) in which they found 17,953 trait names, and after eliminating synonyms that denoted essentially the same traits they were left with 4,505 distinct English trait names denoting psychological differences between people. See also 16PF, Big Five, Language Personality Sphere, metatrait, trait centrality. [From Old French trait a drawing or a stroke of the pen in a picture, from Latin trahere, tractum to draw]

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