Psychology in Advertising

Psychologizing Customers with Personality Traits, Types, States, and Styles

Inkblot’s new approach to projective personality psychology enables users to Psychologize their data using machine learning.

When something is explained in terms of psychology—psychographics, trait profiles, and a variety of other data—it is “psychologized.” Inkblot’s new approach to projective personality psychology enables users to Psychologize their data using machine learning from a host of psychographic repositories. Market researchers can use Psychologize to map out various traits, states, types, styles, and abilities of a target user’s profile. 

Traits, states, types, styles, and abilities are the “Big Five” of personality concepts. They are often mixed, matched, and confused for one another; let’s map out the differences of these classic concepts in psychology so that you can use them in your next marketing campaign.

5 Classic Psychological Concepts

  • Traits — Gordon Allport, the father of personality psychology, defined a trait as an individualized “neuropsychic system” that guides consistent behavior (Allport, 1937, p. 295). Phrased colloquially, a trait is a consistent, stable habit of behavior, emotion, and thought across time. Gordon Allport created the trait theory of psychology using raw wit and a dictionary. Utilizing a lexical approach, Allport discovered that individual differences were detectable in language by marking words that are used to describe people. The results returned nearly 18,000 terms (Allport and Odbert, 1936). The most famous example of personality traits come from McRae and Costa’s five factor theory: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Neuroticism (1987). Traits are relatively abstract, and cannot be established by a single observation (Fridhandler, 1986). For example, a person who scores high in the trait Agreeableness would be generally warm and friendly with others, often considering others’ wants and wishes before their own. They would have a history of this type of behavior that’s verifiable in their life experiences.  

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  • States — Psychological state theories did not form until the 1960s and 1970s (Schmitt and Blum, 2020). A state is a relatively temporary (yet constant in duration) system of behavior, emotion, and thought that occurs in specific contexts at a particular time (Heller et. al., 2007). Again—phrased colloquially—states are what someone is doing and experiencing right now on the whole. States are highly contextual and concrete  (Fridhandler, 1986). Mood, for example, is an affective state. One morning, you might wake up in a somber mood. This mood might last continuously, until it shifts to the next mood…hopefully a happier one. This does not mean that you have a trait disposition for being sad. Rather, your psychological state shifts continually, and often unannounced, on a short-term basis. Your mood doesn’t actually follow you; you follow it. Traits on the other hand, seem to follow you around, waiting for the right time and place to express via your personality.  

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  • Types — Famed psychoanalyst Carl Jung discovered two types of people from the results of his projective word association test: those that relied on personal experiences, and those that relied on objectivity (Beebe, 2016). Jung later coined the idea of psychological types in his 1921 book by the same name. Initially, Jung formed two general attitude types: introverted and extroverted. Jung believed that types were a universal human experience that “over-ride the distinctions of sex” (Jung, 1921, p. 414). Introverts rely on subjective points of perception and cognition. In a sense, they look inwards to make sense of the world. They rely on high levels of personalized abstractions—like impressions and mental images—from a secure internal frame of reference. In terms of personality, a highly introverted person might be very thoughtful, not like to work in groups, and feel tired after being in social situations. Extroverts, on the other hand, rely on external frames of reference—like facts—for anchoring. They look outwards to make sense of the world. A highly extroverted person might be more attention-seeking, work well with others, and feel energized by social situations. In addition to these attitudes, Jung created four functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition (Jung, 1921). Together, the two attitudes and four functions created 8 types: Introverted Thinking, Introverted Feeling, Introverted Sensation, Introverted Intuitive, Extroverted Thinking, Extroverted Feeling, Extroverted Sensation, and Extroverted Intuitive. Whether or not it was directly related to the next concept, Jung’s groundwork in attitudes and psychological types laid the foundation for personality styles. 

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  • Styles — In psychology, style refers to the characteristic and often preferred ways a person relates to the environment. Two specific styles—perceptual and cognitive—are well established factors that are revealing of the personality. Perceptual styles are based on the idea that individual outlooks on the world are formed based on how people see things and organize them. They rely heavily on sensory judgments. Perceptual styles are detectable by identifying how a person attends to, selects, modifies, and interprets the world around them. Klein’s research found that sharpeners tend to focus on the details of a situation, while levelers tend to focus on grasping the whole picture. Additionally, Klein found that physiognomic perceivers tend to anchor onto and embellish emotional content, while literal perceivers take a more matter-of-fact, precise approach. Depending on the situation, a normal person might use one style or another, however consistent patterns do emerge. Cognitive styles are concerned with the ways that a person thinks, recalls, and uses symbolic representations to solve problems in an intellectual, or thoughtful way. A person’s cognitive style will tell you about how simple or complex their concepts are, how much they synthesize and integrate ideas, how long they can sustain attention, and even how consistent their thoughts are with their actions.

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  • Ability — The power to do something implies performance. As such, ability is not as simple as innate talent or learning, it’s a live-wiring of both. While it takes all sorts of mental gymnastics to perform even the most mundane tasks, there are two types of abilities pertinent to personality: psychological ability and creative ability. Psychological ability is a social skill that enables people to recognise the actual “feelings, moods, and motivations” of others (Wedeck, 1947, p. 133). Today, we often call this emotional intelligence, which requires complex personal and interpersonal knowledge of motives and personality. The ability to read the room is intimately connected to one’s own sense of self and identity, and can change situationally. Some people might not feel comfortable at work, and as such tend to be more closed off to the social world, however they might feel more comfortable around friends, and are charismatic and engaged. Teresa Amabile, a director of research at the Harvard Business School, defined the main components of creative performance. Performance begins with skills related to the task such as knowledge, and technical proficiencies. These skills rely on innate perceptual, cognitive, and motor skills (Amabile, 1983). Creativity-relevant skills rely on one’s ability to suspend disbelief, explore new ideas, freedom of expression, and thinking outside the box, all of which are a form of cognitive style. Finally, a person’s motivation affects the creative process. The ability to be creative depends on your attitude towards the task, which will differ from person to person. Someone who sees a task as novel and exciting is more likely to find a creative solution than someone who finds it boring and uninteresting (Amabile, 1983).The point to be made is that an ability must be tested, it’s not something you can claim, you show it through action.

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Psych Tech

We live in a time where everything is accessible through technology. Add psychology as a service (PaaS) to that list. 

Psychologize is the latest app in psych tech, or psychological technologies. Psych tech enables those—advertisers, industry leaders, marketers, and researchers—to capture an individual or group’s psychological profile with AI-powered projective tests. Psych techs  like Psychologize take a difficult and expensive service—psychology—and make it easily accessible, affordable, and all in a user friendly interface. 

If you are looking for Psychology as a service (PaaS), then Psychologize is the one-stop shop.


Allport, G. W.; Odbert, H. S. (1936). Trait-names: A psycho-lexical study. Albany, NY: Psychological Review Company. 

Allport, G. W. (1937). Personality, a psychological interpretation. New York: Holt.

Amabile, T. M. (1983). The social psychology of creativity: A componential conceptualization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45(2), 357–376.

Beebe, J. (2016). Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type: The reservoir of consciousness. Routledge. 

Fridhandler, B. M. (1986). Conceptual note on state, trait, and the state–trait distinction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(1), 169–174.

Heller, D., Komar, J., & Lee, W. B. (2007). The Dynamics of Personality States, Goals, and Well-Being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(6), 898–910.

Jung, C. G., & Baynes, H. G. (1921). Psychological types: The psychology of individuation.

McCrae, R. R.; Costa, P. C.; Jr (1987). "Validation of the five-factor model across instruments and observers". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 52 (1): 81–90.

Schmitt M., Blum G.S. (2020) State/Trait Interactions. In: Zeigler-Hill V., Shackelford T.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

Wedeck, J. (1947). The relationship between personality and 'psychological ability.' British Journal of Psychology, 37, 133–151.

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