In our day to day life we often come across questions like “How is Mr. X as a person?” or “How would you describe yourself?”. In both these questions people almost always begin to use certain adjectives or terms to explain what they mean. These terms used are some characteristics that together form withstanding, consistent, and defining patterns called personality. Thus, personality can be considered as a conceptualization of individual behaviour1 and thought process. The assessment of personality, therefore, consists of procedures that aim to collect information about an individual’s characteristics. The information collected is then described in the form of conclusions and recommendations2.
Purpose of Personality Assessment
It is important to point at the outset that no two personalities are ever completely same. This is because even with common personality elements, individuals usually differ in expressing them. The measurement of such differences is at the heart personality assessment2. For example, in a corporate set up, personality assessments help an employer know the strengths and weaknesses of employees. This information can help the employer delegate work in a better way.
Another purpose of personality assessment is based on the influence personality traits have in daily life. Our personalities govern the various choices we make; personal and professional. Thus, personality assessments reveal valuable information to guide and improve our decision making processes. For example, in an educational setting, assessment of personality is an essential element of guiding students towards suitable career choices.
Personality assessments can provide valuable information about an individual’s coping styles2,3 in stressful conditions. Such an assessment can also provide understanding about individual strengths and weaknesses3.
Types of Personality Assessment
1. Self Report Inventories: In this format individuals are provided structured, explicitly statements and are asked to respond to them by choosing from a set of alternatives given. The statements used can be related to behaviours or attitudes or symptoms. By nature, self report inventories can be completed with minimum supervision. Some examples of self report inventories are as follows:
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator4: This measure is designed to collect information on psychological preferences of individuals. It seeks to elicit the ways in which an individual perceives the world around them
- NEO Personality Inventory2: This inventory provides in depth personality related information by focussing on 5 traits namely, neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness.
2. Performance Based Measure: These measures collect information on the basis of how an individual performs on standardized tasks. Thus, information is collected indirectly. Popular measures in this area are as follows:
- Rorschach Inkblot Test: Abstract Inkblots are presented in this test in order to determine personality dynamics.
- Thematic Apperception Test: Different pictures are presented in this test and the test taker is asked to narrate stories based on them. Different elements of the stories are then interpreted to deduce personality related information.
- Sentence Completion Methods2: These consist of presenting words and phrases that the test taker is then asked to give the form of a complete sentence. Such methods elicit information about underlying attitudes, concerns, etc.
Personality assessment holds incredible potential in providing valuable insights and useful information about individual test takers. Conducting such an assessment under professional supervision is most imperative in order to ensure that a reliable and valid measure is used. Furthermore, professional training becomes especially important when a personality measure is interpreted according to set norms and rules. These considerations determine the overall success or failure of the overall assessment.
1.Cohen, R. J., Montague, P., Nathanson, L. S., & Swerdlik, M. E. (1988). Psychological testing: an introduction to tests and measurements. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co.
2.Weiner, I. & Greene, R. (2008). Handbook of personality assessment. Hoboken, NJ:John Wiley & Sons.
3.Introduction to personality assessment. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/assess/projective_notes.htm
4.The power of personality-a positive framework for lifelong people development. (2015, April 15). Retrieved from https://www.cpp.com/en-US/Products-and-Services/Myers-Briggs.