Even though many people think that they are synonyms, character and trait have different meanings. Sometimes what people refer to as a character is actually a trait and vice versa. Character and trait are different in the this manner:
The way in which one acquires a character is different from that in which one ac-quires a trait. Character is most often developed through external factors such as parental upbringing and environmental socialization while trait is inborn. This means that one is born with a particular trait whereas he or she can acquire a par-ticular character as they grow up. Character may sometimes also be inborn.
In regard to character, many children usually acquire a character depending on how they have been brought up. When parents or grown ups who are around them try to foster positive behavior in them, the children are likely to turn out with positive character. On the other hand, when children are influenced negatively, they may turn out having a negative character or characters.
In many societies, children are usually taught positive character through methods such as rewarding of positive behavior and punishment for negative behavior. A child will therefore likely strive to behave well so as to get the rewards of positive behavior such as gifts and even parental or grown up approval. Also, children may strive to behave well so as to escape punishment for negative behavior. Such pun-ishment may include whipping or even being denied certain favors and gifts.
Character is usually described in form of virtues and vices. Virtues are positive and acceptable characters. They include qualities such as honesty, trustworthiness, re-spect, patience, loyalty, obedience, generosity, love, kindness, and peacefulness among others. Vices on the other hand are negative and less acceptable characters. They include qualities such as rudeness, disrespect, deceit, anger, rage, jealousy, dis-obedience, and arrogance among others.
Time and environmental influence
Character can be shaped with the passing of time while trait cannot be shaped by time since it is inherent. Over time, someone who used to have negative behavior may develop positive behavior and likewise, someone who used to behave well may develop negative behavior.
One’s behavior may be influenced by life’s happenings and challenges. Someone who used to be arrogant, proud, and insensitive to other people’s feelings may for example drop these qualities after they have undergone loss and experienced the pain that comes with it. They may instead pick up qualities such as empathy and humility. Similarly, someone who used to have positive behavior such as love and kindness may be embittered by life’s happenings and thereby become a mean or un-caring person. Such qualities may have been prompted by things such as abuse and injustice.
In regard to environmental factors, character can be influenced by the environment while trait cannot. This is still explained by the fact that a trait is inborn and cannot be influenced by external factors.
External factors such as going to school among other things can change one’s char-acter. School for example often serves to change one’s character positively. Educa-tion which is offered in school usually inculcates certain values in learners alongside imparting knowledge and skills in them. Such values include things like neatness, diligence, orderliness, and even morality. Students also learn to be accomodative and accepting of people who are different from them as they meet people from dif-ferent backgrounds in school.
A trait is usually geneologically passed to someone and therefore it isn’t influenced by the environment. A trait can be biological for example albinism or it can be a non-physical quality like charisma.