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Personality assessment instruments

Modern psychology is beleaguered with various personality assessment instruments. These instruments, such as the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, the Rorschach Inkblot Test and Self-help books, are widely used to provide an understanding of individual patterns of thinking, behavior, and characteristics. The results of the assessments are applied in an attempt to measure intelligence, temperament, and susceptibility to mental illness. This essay will compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each instrument. Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire

Psychologist Raymond Cattell developed the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, also called the 16PF, in 1949 at the University of Illinois. Cattell’s objective was to discover universal aspects of personality. To achieve this, his laboratory consisted of researchers from several countries. These researchers later continued their research in their respective countries, resulting in personality assessment that is cross-cultural. Collective research was obtained and evaluated from colleges around the world including Japan, Germany, India, South Africa, England, and Switzerland.

This 185 multiple-choice test takes 30-60 minutes to complete and can be administered to adults age 16 and older. The 16PF measures 16 multidimensional personality attributes. The first of these is Warmth; giving a measure of the individuals tendency to seek closeness and general feelings of caring and sympathy as opposed to feeling reserved and detached. Reasoning displays an individual’s ability to handle abstract problems and concrete thinking and if the individual has a higher or lower general mental capacity.

Emotional Stability measures how easily the individual becomes upset or if emotional problems are faced calmly. Dominance determines an individual’s placement between the extremes of submissiveness and accommodation versus stubbornness and aggressiveness. Liveliness is another measured factor, determining spontaneity, energy level, and animation, opposed to being cautious and astute. Rule-Consciousness displays the difference between low super ego strength, consisting of nonconforming and disregarding rules, and high super ego strength, consisting of moralistic and conforming traits.

Social Boldness will display if the individual feels comfortable in the center of attention and enjoys risks, or if he or she is more modest, shy, and timid. Sensitivity contains the boundaries of the tough minded and self-reliant on one side and the tender minded and refined on the other. The Vigilance factor will show if a person is trusting and accepting or skeptical and suspicious. Abstractedness measures an individual’s tendency to be practical and conventional or imaginative and absorbed in ideas.

Openness to Change will display if the individual stays with the familiar and traditional or if freethinking and flexibility is preferred. Self-Reliance could also be called independence, measuring if the individual is group-oriented or self-sufficient. Perfectionism measured a tolerance for disorder and self-control. The final factor on the test is Tension, measuring patience, and frustration level. The answers given will provide insight into the individual’s adaptability, emotional reaction to environmental challenges, and behavioral responses to certain situations.

The 16PF also uses these 16 factors to form five dominant themes, consisting of Extraversion, Anxiety, Will, Independence, and Self Control. These factors provide a sharper picture of the individual’s personality because it combines several aspects together into a multi-dimensional view. These groups are called the 16PF5, more commonly referred to as the Big Five. The 16PF is among the top five most commonly used research and practice instruments and has been translated into more than 35 languages, including cultural adaptations. Test-retest reliabilities show an average of 0.

80 over a two-week interval and 0. 70 over a two-month interval. International test-retest reliabilities are just as strong, averaging 0. 80 in Norway and 0. 83 in Germany. Internal consistencies estimate the 16PF scales a mean of 0. 75. In the past 50 years, the 16PF Questionnaire has provided a rich source of information for test users. It has proven useful in understanding and predicting a wide range of important behaviors. For example, the assessment test has been effective in predicting such diverse areas as creativity, social skills and empathy, marital compatibility, and leadership potential.

The 16PF is also constructive in finding employment matches, containing over a hundred occupational profiles. The 16PF Questionnaire is a widely used to gauge normal adult personality and has proven to be very inclusive. This personality assessment test sorts the basic structural elements of personality developed from factor-analytic research. First published in 1949, a series of reliability studies signifies that the personality assessment provides reliable results. These same studies contained a selection of validity studies illustrating how the assessment is used effectively in a variety of situations.

The 16PF is currently in its fifth edition. The only changes undergone were to update the language and provide a consistent format. Cattell’s 16PF assessment has contributed much to personality research. The emergence of the Big Five Factors has been monumental in the attempt to understand personality. Despite the tremendous role his input has provided, his theory is not without criticism. The most apparent criticism of Cattell’s 16PF assessment is that despite many attempts his theory has never been entirely replicated.

More than likely, errors in computation occurred during Cattell’s factor analysis resulting in skewed data, thus the inability to replicate. During Cattell’s time calculations were done by hand. Since computer programs for factor analysis did not exist, it is not surprising that some errors occurred. Rorschach Inkblot Test Herman Rorschach developed his Rorschach test in 1921. The test is presented with the instructor and subject sitting next to each other at a table. The subject is then shown 10 separate inkblots printed on a white card, measuring approximately 18×24 centimeters.

Five of the cards are in black ink, two are mostly black ink with some red ink areas, and three are multicolored. The first phase of the test involves the subject using the cards to develop free association. The subject can reply with any response that comes to mind. The second phase requires the cards to be shown again in a specific sequence. The subject may hold the cards and interact with them openly; the cards may be rotated, turned over, or flipped upside down to look at the back. In this phase, the tester is asked to go into more detail on what they observe on the cards and why.

During this phase, the tester records everything the subject says and does, no matter how trivial it may seem. The goal of the Rorschach test is to provide data about the individual’s motivations and perceptions. The interpretation of the test is not based on what the individual sees, but rather on outside factors, such as time taken to form a response and the location and determinants of the card, which specific details and aspects triggered the response. For example, the content of what the person sees can be controlled and influenced by the subject.

The location of the response would result in if the individual focuses on the entire inkblot, a detail within the inkblot, or the white negative space that surrounds the inkblot. The most common determinate is form; consisting of shading and movement. Shading resulted from the print process and was not an originally intended feature, but provided to be significant by Rorschach. When a person sees movement within the card, it is usually taken to represent a current emotion, something the person is dealing within the present.

In the 1960s, Dr. John Exner developed a standard method for interpreting the Rorschach test. Exner’s scoring system places emphasis on relating to how the subject processes data. Responses are scored on the level of vagueness, how many images are seen within the card, response location, and response content. Exner’s system has been validated and shows high inter-rater reliability. The Rorschach test is very difficult to measure in other cultures. What is commonly seen as a dog or cat in North America is identified as a chameleon in France.

These responses would be marked as unusual, leading to the suspicion of schizophrenia if correlated to North America norms. Other differences are noticed with individual with very creative backgrounds. “Since previous reports have indicated that unique responses were observed at higher frequency in the artistic population than in the non-artistic normal population, this positive correlation suggests that amygdalar enlargement in the normal population might be related to creative mental activity” (Asari, 2010).

The amygdalar is responsible for the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Another problem facing the Rorschach test that the cards are supposed to be secret. This allows unrehearsed responses from the subject that revele their personality and innermost thoughts. A simple Internet search can allow anyone to find the 10 cards used in the test along with descriptions of the most commonly given responses. Online versions of the test are also available.

The open availablity of the card discriptions lead to a comic book superhero with the name of Rorschach. He wears a white mask with a black inkblot that is constantly changing shape. Rorschach is unpredictable and several of his cohorts consider him mentally ill. Self-Help Books Bookstores and libraries and filled with books that claim to fix relationship problems, relieve depression or anxiety, and motivate people to improve their mental function. Self-help books are popular because people want to believe that emotional problems can be fixed without expensive therapy.

Although self-help books are cost-effective and can serve educational purposes and preventive functions, they are not a cure-all. Psychologists are skeptical because they believe these books cannot be valid because they do not have a scientific ground on which reliable and valid assessment tools could be applied. The largest problem with self-help books is that anyone can write them. The books are not tested or peer reviewed. When the book fails to accomplish its extravagant claim, the readers are likely to blame themselves.

Books also cannot provide feedback to the subject’s progress. Methods suggested in the book may not work for everyone and a professional is needed to adjust treatment to fit the individual. Self-help books have the best results when applied as a supplement to therapy. It should also be noted that self-help books attempt to correct a problem, such as low self-esteem, whereas the other tools analyzed are intended to measure personality, not correct any personality problems. Conclusion Personality assessments are meant to help individuals discover their inner self.

The desires for this information may derive from a need of deeper personal understand or to discover possible career matches. Finding the personality assessment instrument that best fits the individual’s needs is an undertaking within itself. Each method discussed above has strengths and weaknesses, requiring appropriate situations for each use. References Watkins, C. E. , Campbell, V. L. , Nieberding, R. and Hallmark, R. (1995) ‘Contemporary practice of psychological assessment of clinical psychologist’, Professional Psychological Research and Practice, 26: 54–60.

Piotrowski, C. and Zalewski, C. (1993) ‘Training in psychodiagnostic testing in APA-approved PsyD and PhD clinical psychology programs’, Journal of Personality Assessment, 61(2): 394–405. Conn, S. R. , & Rieke, M. L. (1994a). The 16PF Fifth Edition technical manual. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, Inc. Asari T, Konishi S, Jimura K, Chikazoe J, Nakamura N, Miyashita Y. (2010). Amygdalar enlargement associated with unique perception. Cortex. 46:94–99. Holmes, A (2010). Personality Assessment. http://www. imdb. com/character/ch0029762/

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