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1 Word Count = 8, Methods of Personality Assessment Gregory J. Boyle Department of Psychology, Bond University and Department of Psychiatry. chapter we survey various approaches to assessing personality and constructing personality that have been used in the process of personality assessment. The “5JMINUTE PERSONALITY TESTÒ. Below are ten horizontal lines with four words on each line, one in each column. In each line, put the number “4” next to.
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Personnel Psychology, 53, Mulaik, S. Confirmatory factor analysis. Nichols, J. Some dangers of using personality questionnaires to study personality. Psychological Bulletin, 92, Norman, W. Normative operating characteristics for a university population. When taking such a test, the subject might have to decide whether each of a series of statements is accurate as a self-description or respond to a series of true-false questions about personal beliefs.
Several inventories require that each of a series of statements be placed on a rating scale in terms of the frequency or adequacy with which the statements are judged by the individual to reflect his tendencies and attitudes. Regardless of the way in which the subject responds, most inventories yield several scores, each intended to identify a distinctive aspect of personality. Also available in other languages, it consists in one version of items e.
In its development efforts were made to achieve convenience in administration and scoring and to overcome many of the known defects of earlier personality inventories. Varied types of items were included and emphasis was placed on making these printed statements presented either on small cards or in a booklet intelligible even to persons with limited reading ability.
Most earlier inventories lacked subtlety; many people were able to fake or bias their answers since the items presented were easily seen to reflect gross disturbances; indeed, in many of these inventories maladaptive tendencies would be reflected in either all true or all false answers. Perhaps the most significant methodological advance to be found in the MMPI was the attempt on the part of its developers to measure tendencies to respond, rather than actual behaviour, and to rely but little on assumptions of face validity.
Much study has been given to the ways in which response sets and test-taking attitudes influence behaviour on the MMPI and other personality measures. It is conceivable that two people might be quite similar in all respects except for their tendency toward acquiescence.
This difference in response set can lead to misleadingly different scores on personality tests. Acquiescence is not the only response set; there are other test-taking attitudes that are capable of influencing personality profiles. One of these, already suggested by the example of the person who hears strange voices, is social desirability.
Nevertheless, users of questionnaires have not yet completely solved problems of bias such as those arising from response sets.
Indeed, many of these problems first received widespread attention in research on the MMPI, and research on this and similar inventories has significantly advanced understanding of the whole discipline of personality testing. The MMPI as originally published consists of nine clinical scales or sets of items , each scale having been found in practice to discriminate a particular clinical group, such as people suffering from schizophrenia, depression, or paranoia see mental disorder.
Each of these scales or others produced later was developed by determining patterns of response to the inventory that were observed to be distinctive of groups of individuals who had been psychiatrically classified by other means e.
The responses of apparently normal subjects were compared with those of hospital patients with a particular psychiatric diagnosis—for example, with symptoms of schizophrenia.
In addition to the nine clinical scales and many specially developed scales, there are four so-called control scales on the inventory. The L or lie scale was devised to measure the tendency of the test taker to attribute socially desirable attributes to himself. More subtle than either the L or F scales is what is called the K scale. Its construction was based on the observation that some persons tend to exaggerate their symptoms because of excessive openness and frankness and may obtain high scores on the clinical scales; others may exhibit unusually low scores because of defensiveness.
Their approach does not depend heavily on theoretical predilections and hypotheses. For this reason the inventory has proved particularly popular with those who have strong doubts about the eventual validity that many theoretical formulations will show in connection with personality measurement after they have been tested through painstaking research.
The MMPI also appeals to those who demand firm experimental evidence that any personality assessment method can make valid discriminations among individuals. In recent years there has been growing interest in actuarial personality description—that is, in personality description based on traits shared in common by groups of people.
Actuarial description studies yield rules by which persons may be classified according to their personal attributes as revealed by their behaviour on tests, for example. Computer programs are now available for diagnosing such disorders as hysteria , schizophrenia, and paranoia on the basis of typical group profiles of MMPI responses.
Computerized methods for integrating large amounts of personal data are not limited to this inventory and are applicable to other inventories, personality tests e. Computerized classification of MMPI profiles, however, has been explored most intensively. The MMPI has been considered in some detail here because of its wide usage and because it illustrates a number of important problems confronting those who attempt to assess personality characteristics.
Many other omnibus personality inventories are also used in applied settings and in research. The California Psychological Inventory CPI , for example, is keyed for several personality variables that include sociability, self-control, flexibility, and tolerance.
Whereas the judgments of experts usually psychiatric workers were used in categorizing subjects given the MMPI during the early item-writing phase of its development, nominations by peers such as respondents or friends of the subjects were relied upon in work with the CPI.
Its technical development has been evaluated by test authorities to be of high order, in part because its developers profited from lessons learned in the construction and use of the MMPI. It also provides measures of response sets and has been subjected to considerable research study. From time to time, most personality inventories are revised for a variety of reasons, including the need to take account of cultural and social changes and to improve them.
For example, a revision of the CPI was published in In the revision, the inventory itself was modified to improve clarity, update content, and delete items that might be objectionable to some respondents. Because the item pool remained largely unchanged, data from the original samples were used in computing norms and in evaluating reliability and validity for new scales and new composite scores. The descriptions of high and low scorers on each scale have been refined and sharpened, and correlations of scale scores with other personality tests have been reported.
Beyond personality inventories, there are other self-report approaches to personality measurement available for research and applied purposes. Mention was made earlier of the use of rating scales. Another method of self-report called the Q-sort is devised for problems similar to those for which rating scales are used. In a Q-sort a person is given a set of sentences, phrases, or words usually presented individually on cards and is asked to use them to describe himself as he thinks he is or as he would like to be or someone else.
This description is carried out by having the subject sort the items on the cards in terms of their degree of relevance so that they can be distributed along what amounts to a rating scale. Typical paper-and-pencil instruments such as personality inventories involve verbal stimuli words intended to call forth designated types of responses from the individual.
There are clearly stated ground rules under which he makes his responses. Paper-and-pencil devices are relatively easy and economical to administer and can be scored accurately and reliably by relatively inexperienced clerical workers.
They are generally regarded by professional personality evaluators as especially valuable assessment tools in screening large numbers of people, as in military or industrial personnel selection. Assessment specialists do not assume that self-reports are accurate indicators of personality traits.
Paper-and-pencil techniques have moved from their early stage of assumed face validity to more advanced notions in which improvements in conceptualization and methodology are clearly recognized as basic to the determination of empirical validity.
One group of assessment specialists believes that the more freedom people have in picking their responses, the more meaningful the description and classification that can be obtained.
Because personality inventories do not permit much freedom of choice, some researchers and clinicians prefer to use projective techniques, in which a person is shown ambiguous stimuli such as shapes or pictures and asked to interpret them in some way.
Projective techniques are believed to be sensitive to unconscious dimensions of personality. Defense mechanisms, latent impulses, and anxieties have all been inferred from data gathered in projective situations. Personality inventories and projective techniques do have some elements in common; inkblots , for example, are ambiguous, but so also are many of the statements on inventories such as the MMPI. These techniques differ in that the subject is given substantially free rein in responding to projective stimuli rather than merely answering true or false, for example.
Another similarity between projective and questionnaire or inventory approaches is that all involve the use of relatively standardized testing situations. While projective techniques are often lumped together as one general methodology, in actual practice there are several approaches to assessment from a projective point of view.
Although projective techniques share the common characteristic that they permit the subject wide latitude in responding, they still may be distinguished broadly as follows: Hidden personality defense mechanisms, latent emotional impulses, and inner anxieties all have been attributed to test takers by making theoretical inferences from data gathered as they responded in projective situations.
While projective stimuli are ambiguous, they are usually administered under fairly standardized conditions. These include the number of responses one makes to a series of inkblots and the number of responses to the blots in which the subject perceives what seem to him to be moving animals. The Rorschach inkblots were developed by a Swiss psychiatrist, Hermann Rorschach , in an effort to reduce the time required in psychiatric diagnosis. His test consists of 10 cards, half of which are in colour and half in black and white.
The subject is usually told that the inkblots are not a test of the kind he took in school and that there are no right or wrong answers. There is a vast experimental literature to suggest that the Rorschach technique lacks empirical validity.
Recently, researchers have sought to put the Rorschach on a sounder psychometric mental testing basis. New comprehensive scoring systems have been developed, and there have been improvements in standardization and norms. These developments have injected new life into the Rorschach as a psychometric instrument. A similar method, the Holtzman Inkblot Test, has been developed in an effort to eliminate some of the statistical problems that beset the Rorschach test.
It involves the administration of a series of 45 inkblots, the subject being permitted to make only one response per card. The Holtzman has the desirable feature that it provides an alternate series of 45 additional cards for use in retesting the same person. Research with the Rorschach and Holtzman has proceeded in a number of directions; many studies have compared psychiatric patients and other groups of special interest delinquents, underachieving students with ostensibly normal people.
Some investigators have sought to derive indexes or predictions of future behaviour from responses to inkblots and have checked, for example, to see if anxiety and hostility as inferred from content analyses of verbal responses are related to favourable or unfavourable response to psychotherapy.
A sizable area of exploration concerns the effects of special conditions e. There are other personality assessment devices, which, like the Rorschach, are based on the idea that an individual will project something of himself into his description of an ambiguous stimulus. The TAT, for example, presents the subject with pictures of persons engaged in a variety of activities e. The test consists of 30 black and white pictures and one blank card to test imagination under very limited stimulation.
The cards are presented to the subject one at a time, and he is asked to make up a story that describes each picture and that indicates the events that led to the scene and the events that will grow out of it. He is also asked to describe the thoughts and feelings of the persons in his story. Although some content-analysis scoring systems have been developed for the TAT, attempts to score it in a standardized quantitative fashion tend to be limited to research and have been fewer than has been the case for the Rorschach.
This is especially the state of affairs in applied settings in which the test is often used as a basis for conducting a kind of clinical interview; the pictures are used to elicit a sample of verbal behaviour on the basis of which inferences are drawn by the clinician.
In one popular approach, interpretation of a TAT story usually begins with an effort to determine who is the hero i. The content of the stories is often analyzed in terms of a so-called need-press system. Needs are defined as the internal motivations of the hero.
Press refers to environmental forces that may facilitate or interfere with the satisfaction of needs e. In assessing the importance or strength of a particular inferred need or press for the individual who takes the test, special attention is given to signs of its pervasiveness and consistency in different stories.
The list of projective approaches to personality assessment is long, one of the most venerable being the so-called word-association test. Jung used associations to groups of related words as a basis for inferring personality traits e. Administering a word-association test is relatively uncomplicated; a list of words is presented one at a time to the subject who is asked to respond with the first word or idea that comes to mind.
Many of the stimulus words may appear to be emotionally neutral e. The amount of time the subject takes before beginning each response and the response itself are used in efforts to analyze a word association test.
The sentence-comple-tion technique may be considered a logical extension of word-association methods. In administering a sentence-completion test, the evaluator presents the subject with a series of partial sentences that he is asked to finish in his own words e. Users of sentence-completion methods in assessing personality typically analyze them in terms of what they judge to be recurring attitudes, conflicts, and motives reflected in them. Such analyses, like those of TAT, contain a subjective element.
A variety of assessments could be considered, for example, in the case of a seven-year-old boy who, according to his teacher, is doing poorly in his schoolwork and, according to his parents, is difficult to manage at home and does not get along with other children. The following types of assessment might be considered: Making all of these assessments would be a major undertaking.
Because of the variety of data that are potentially available, the assessor must decide which types of information are most feasible and desirable under a given set of circumstances. In most cases, the clinician is interested in both subjective and objective information. Subjective information includes what clients think about, the emotions they experience, and their worries and preoccupations. Interviews, personality inventories, and projective techniques provide indications of subjective experience, although considerable clinical judgment is needed to infer what is going on within the client from test responses.
Such objective information is measured by behavioral assessment. It is often used to identify behavioral problems, which are then treated in some appropriate way. Behavioral observations are used to get information that cannot be obtained by other means.
Examples of such observations include the frequency of a particular type of response, such as physical attacks on others or observations by ward attendants of certain behaviours of psychiatric patients. In either case, observational data must meet the same standards of reliability as data obtained by more formal measures.
The value of behavioral assessment depends on the behaviours selected for observation. For example, if the goal of assessment is to detect a tendency toward depression, the responses recorded should be those that are relevant to that tendency, such as degrees of smiling, motor activity, and talking. A type of behavioral assessment called baseline observations is becoming increasingly popular. These are recordings of response frequencies in particular situations before any treatment or intervention has been made.
They can be used in several ways. For example, the number of aggressive responses made by children of different ages might be recorded. Such observations also provide a baseline for judging the effectiveness of behaviour modification techniques.
A similar set of observations, made after behaviour modification procedures have been used, could be compared with the baseline measurement as a way of determining how well the therapy worked. Behavioral observations can be treated in different ways. One of these is to keep track of the frequency with which people make designated responses during a given period of time e. Another approach involves asking raters to support their judgments of others by citing specific behaviour critical incidents ; a shop foreman, for example, may rate a worker as depressed by citing incidents when the worker burst into tears.
Critical incidents not only add validity to ordinary ratings, but they also suggest behavioral details that might be promising predictors of success on the job, response to psychiatric treatment, or level of academic achievement. Behavioral observations are widely made in interviews and in a variety of workaday settings.
Employers, supervisors, and teachers—either formally or informally—make use of behavioral observations in making decisions about people for whom they have responsibility. Unfortunately the subject may know he is being studied or evaluated and, therefore, may behave atypically e.
The observer may be a source of error by being biased in favour of or against the subject. Disinterested observers clearly are to be preferred other things being equal for research and clinical purposes. The greater the care taken to control such contributions to error, the greater the likelihood that observations will prove to be reliable. The types of thoughts experienced by individuals are reflective of their personalities. Just as it is important to know what people do and how their behaviour affects others, it is also necessary to assess the thoughts that may lie behind the behaviour.
Cognitive assessment provides information about thoughts that precede, accompany, and follow maladaptive behaviour. It also provides information about the effects of procedures that are intended to modify both how subjects think about a problem and how they behave. Cognitive assessment can be carried out in a variety of ways. Beepers electronic pagers have been used to signal subjects to record their thoughts at certain times of the day. There are also questionnaires to assess the directions people give themselves while working on a task and their theories about why things happen as they do.
The assessment of thoughts and ideas is a relatively new development. It has received impetus from the growing evidence that thought processes and the content of thoughts are related to emotions and behaviour. Bodily functions may also reflect motivations and concerns, and some clinicians also pay attention to these.
Sophisticated devices have been developed to measure such physiological changes as pupil dilation, blood pressure , and electrical skin responses under specific conditions.