Optical trapping, mixing, and sorting of micro- and nano-scale particles of arbitrary shape (e.g., blood cells and nanorods) are but a few of the burgeoning applications of optical interference landscapes. Due to their non-invasive, non-contact manipulation potential, biologists and nanotechnologists alike are showing increased interest in this area and experimental results continue to be promising. A complete and reliable theoretical description of the particles' response within these fields will allow us to accurately predict their behavior and motion. We develop an electrostatic model of the optical force and torque on anisotropic particles in optical intensity gradients. The complete optical field is defined and a Maxwell stress tensor approach is taken to realize the force and torque induced by the electric field due to the polarizability of the particle. We utilize the properties of real dielectrics and steady state optical fields to extend this approach to the electrodynamic case inherent in optical trapping. We then compare our results against our recently reported form factor approach and use the differences to try to determine the importance of polarizability in optical trapping.© (2008) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.