Difference Between Character and Trait

An organism’s body is an outcome of fascinating multicellular activities, be it an ant or a mammal as giant as an elephant, the basic process of existing and passing on genes remains the same in the progeny.

The world comprises billions of species, the number is so high and the overwhelming thing remains that each species is completely different from the other.  Humankind is one of them, differs itself from each other excluding the look-alikes or twins who are also not completely the same.

The morphological difference and the anatomical variations are a result of the evolutionary process. The difference in the structure, the color of eyes, or hair, everything is so well coded to show a different trait.

The words character and trait are often interchangeably used to define the similarities or differences. A person’s character is the building block of personality and the traits add up to that to create a unique identity.

Character vs Trait

The main difference between Character and Trait is in the correspondence. A Character is a broad fundamental unit to define distinct features exhibited by a group of organisms while a trait is an absolute constant inherited from birth.

Character vs Trait

Comparison Table between Character and Trait

Parameter of ComparisonCharacter Trait
Definition An observable distinction is often acquired or inherited to formulate a hypothesis while dealing with homology.A trait is an attribute and a subset of character that varies drastically from one individual to another.
InfluenceIt can be acquired or inherited which means that the external environment can bring up changes and influence them.A trait cannot be influenced by the external environment as it’s a gene-to gene interaction.
Dominant/RecessiveCharacter is neither dominant nor recessive.A trait is expressed by the dominant gene while the recessive gene sits back.
DeterminationCharacters can help to identify a group of organisms falling under the same family.They help to identify a single individual from the. billions existing as they are unique.
ExampleThe fact that eyes have color pigments is a character.Each eye consists of a different pigment which leads to different colors, a trait.

What is Character?

Character is a feature obtained after the genetic process and a result of external factors that affected it. It can be inherited or acquired. An inherited character is a result of the transfer of genes from parents to the progeny, the parents’ features are likely to show up, 

The acquired characters are the changes adopted by the body with the advancements or the evolutionary process, for example much discussed Giraffe neck, or the ear lobes of humans.

A single gene can affect and determine several characters and the contrary is true as well where various genes work to determine one of the characters. Oligogenic character is one where just one or few genes form the character for example the blood groups, A, B, AB,  and O.

Polymeric character is where more numbers of genes work together to determine the type, skin color, height, etc requires more genes to form one character.


What is a Trait?

A trait is the distinction of an individual from the crowd of similar beings. It creates identity by giving a different element that is recognizable. Traits move from one generation to the other in a family. It is completely inherited and is not generally affected by the outside environment. 

Two traits are carried at a time ( two genes represent two different traits). One gene is dominant whereas the other is termed recessive.

Dominant Trait is the one that ultimately appears in an individual whereas a recessive trait is a weak trait, it remains unexpressed and the probability of it being a dominant trait remains in the future generations.

For example, one parent might have brown eyes, the other parent with blue eyes, both are genes for the color of eyes, in the offspring, one amongst both will show up, the chances can of both but the one with dominance will appear.


Main Difference Between Character and Trait

  1. The main difference between  Character and Trait is that a Character is a definite quality or characteristic feature that separates or unites a vast population of organisms existing, whereas a trait is specific to an individual, it creates identity.
  2. A character is highly influenced by the environment and also by one hereditary. Some characters get acquired with the time to cope up with the evolutionary process while a part of it is inherited. A trait however is completely inherited and it shows up time by time in the generations.
  3. There is nothing like a dominant or recessive trait whereas the final expression of a trait is an outcome of the dominance of a gene,
  4. With characters, a group of organisms falling under the same set can be categorized. Traits are specific to a person and often leads to the creation of wonders.
  5. The existence of various color types of skin or eyes is the characters while the specific brown skin, blue eyes, etc fall under traits. 


The world consists of gazillions of creatures, each having a unique identity, from microscopic bacteria of the largest mammal on earth, everything is distinct and differs in features and carries biological processes differently.

Humans for example fall under the same race but all 7 billion of us show different attributes, skin color, the color of hair, eyes, size of body changes let alone comparing us with other creatures.

A character is a fundamental unit that demarcates the others with similarity falling under it, it also segregates the differences, it can be acquired or inherited. 

A trait is a subset of character, it’s like a unique spice that creates differences within the family of similar characteristics. It is inherited and only the dominant trait shows up, just like a blue eye in the crowd of all browns.


  1. Evolution of genetic variability in a spatially heterogeneous environment: effects of genotype–environment interaction (cambridge.org)
  2. The comparative method in evolutionary biology (utexas.edu)
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