6 Important Methods That Are Used for the Assessment of Human Personality
Along with it has also developed the concern to construct scientifically valid and reliable measurement techniques. The field of measurement of personality is not free from controversy. Many unresolved controversies and debates have been raised about various issues concerning the measurement of personality.
The term assessment and appraisal are also used sometimes, synonymously lo refer to measurement. Many psychologists prefer the word assessment because it has a broader connotation.
A wide variety of methods for assessment of human personality are available. Some of these methods, which we shall discuss in brief, are as follows:
3. Rating scales
4. Projective techniques
5. Situational tests
6. Personality inventories.
Interview can be defined as a face to face conversation carried on with some basic goal. Interview method of measuring personality is mostly used by clinical psychologists educational psychologists and vocational counselors. Interview method is of many types. Two broad types of interviews are: (i) structured interview and (ii) unstructured interview.
Structured interview uses standardised questions. There are restrictions on what questions can be asked by the interviewer. Structured interview is generally used where strict measurement and exact quantification is required. In structured interview predetermined questions are asked for which answers are also highly specific.
Unstructured interview is an open interrogation. Here the interviewer asks the subject or interviewee any question on any subject relevant to the situation. Detailed answers can be given in this interview and the scoring is often subjective.
Interview is a highly flexible tool and can be used with a wide variety of population. Interview method has been criticised for being highly subjective, for lacking in reliability and validity. The results can get influenced by the personal qualities of the interviewer. It is too time consuming and at times costly. This method also requires a well-trained and competent person to conduct the interview.
Questionnaire is a method of collecting information about an individual. The word questionnaire refers to a device for securing answers to questions by using a form which the respondent fills in him.
It is an easy method of collecting information about an individual’s personality. The construction of a questionnaire is important. The format and the language has to be simple, clear and self-explanatory.
Rating Scale is another method of studying the personality of an individual. By the use of this method the investigator attempts to see what an individual is like in his actions. Experts or significant individuals are asked to pass a judgement or estimate the degree to which the subject possesses a particular trait.
The person who rates others can be an expert, parent, teacher, peer or any other significant individual. A person may even rate himself.
Rating scales are useful in learning what impression an individual has made on persons with whom he has come in close contact in respect to some characteristic of his behaviour. Rating scales are presently used in a wide variety of situations by teachers, counselors, professors, employers, supervisors, parents, etc.
Rating scale for assessing a wide variety of personally traits such as leadership, tactfulness, co-operativeness, industriousness, honesty, emotional maturity, etc. have been developed.
There are two types of rating scales: absolute rating scales and relative rating scales. These two scales can be further subdivided as shown:
Types of Rating Scales:
Rating scale as a technique of personality assessment has only a very- restricted use and it cannot be called a test in the true sense of the term. Rating scales lack the objectivity of a psychological lest. The reliability and validity data of rating scale is not much impressive. The reliability co-efficient of ratings are usually to be found within the range of 0.50 to 0.60.
The validity of a rating scale is influenced by many important characteristics which include knowledge of the behaviour being evaluated, complexity of the trait being evaluated familiarity with the person or trait being rated. Biases of the rater and the characteristics of the rater have been found to influence the results.
Absolute rating scales Relative rating scales:
(a) Graphic rating scales (a) Percentile rating scales
(b) Checklist ratings
(c) Forced choice ratings
(d) Q sort technique
(e) Critical incident technique
4. Projective techniques:
Projective techniques or tests are one of the most frequently used and important tests in clinical work. They largely originated within a clinical setting and have retained important tools for the clinician. Some have evolved from therapeutic procedures such as art therapy employed with psychiatric patients.
Though projective techniques have been used since long they gained their popularity from an article written by L. K. Frank titled “Projective Methods for the Study of Personality.” Projective methodology’s greatest boon came in 1921 with a report by Herman Rorschach in which he described a technique for determining modes of behaviour from an individual’s verbal responses to a set of 10 inkblots.
Today, the literature on projective techniques is vast, running over 4,000 references on Rorschach alone. Projective techniques are being used intensively in all areas of applied psychology ranging from hospitals and clinics to personnel selection or vocational guidance.
Projective techniques refer to a group of techniques used for studying both intellectual and non-intellectual aspects of personality. In these tests, an individual is presented with a relatively unstructured or ambiguous task like a picture, inkblot or incomplete sentence which permits a wide variety of interpretations by the subject.
The basic assumption underlying projective tests is that individual’s interpretation of the task will project his characteristic mode of responses, his personal motives, emotions and desires and thus enable the examiner to understand more subtle aspects of his personality.
There are a wide variety of projective techniques. The two most important representative tests of projective techniques are the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the Thematic Apperception Test. Some other well-known projective tests include the word-association or free-association test and the sentence completion tests.
(a) The Rorschach Inkblot Test:
Was developed by Herman Rorschach in 1921 in his Monograph “Psychodiagnostik.” He died in the same year. His associates Emil Oberholzer, Waller Morgenthaler and George Roemer played an important role in popularising this test.
Today Rorschach is one of the most frequently used, very popular, widely criticised and extensively researched tests. Various innovations in this test have led to the development of multiple systems of test administration, scoring and interpretation.
The Rorschach test consists of 10 cards having bilateral symmetrical inkblots. Half of the cards are black and while and half are coloured. The cards are presented to subjects in a definite sequence.
The scoring of the test is highly subjective. Several scoring categories for Rorschach test have been developed but the most commonly scored categories are location (i.e. the area of the blot which has been perceived by the subject on the basis of live response), determinant (i.e. characteristic of the inkblot as perceived by the subject), content (what is actually seen by the subject), original or popular (this category tells us whether subject’s responses are common or original).
Rorschach test has received mixed reception. Some have regarded it as an X-ray of personality, an indispensable tool for diagnostic purpose, whereas others have regarded its use as unethical. Researchers have consistently presented a poor picture of Rorschach whereas; on the other hand clinicians have been using this test with increasing frequency.
(b) The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT):
The only other projective technique that has approached the Rorschach method in amount of use and volume of research is the TAT which was developed by C. D. Morgan and Henry A. Murray in 1935 as a method to explore unconscious thoughts and fantasies.
The TAT test consists of 30 pictures and a blank card. The pictures have been selected and marked in such a way that there are four sets of 20 cards each, one for boys, one for girls, one for males and one for females over 14 years. The testing process is divided into two sessions and for each of these it is suggested that no more than 10 TAT cards be administered with at least one day intervening between the two sessions.
More recently, practical considerations have led to reduction in the number of cards administered. Most testers now present the subject with 8 to 12 cards and use only a single session. The cards are presented individually and the respondent is instructed to provide a story about the picture that describes the depicted scene, what led up to it, what the characters in the picture are thinking and what the outcome will be.
Although typically administered as an oral test in clinical situations, the TAT may also be administered in writing and as a group test.
The TAT test, like the Rorschach test; also has multiple scoring systems. The three well-known and popular TAT scoring systems are as follows:
(a) Murray’s scoring system (Non-quantitative)
(b) McClelland’s system (quantitative) and
(c) Eron’s system (quantitative).
Since its original publication, many modifications of the original TAT test have been devised. One such modification is the Children’s Appreciation Test (CAT).
(c) The Word Association Test:
Was originally known as the free- association test and was first developed systematically by Carl Jung. Later on the, Kent and Rosanoff used it for psychiatric screening. There have been many versions of the word association test. Jung’s word association test consisted of 100 words. In 1968, Rapaport and his associates developed a word-association test consisting of a list of 60 words. Kent and Rosanoff developed a word-association test consisting of 100 words to differentiate between mentally ill and normal persons.
In the word-association test, the subject is told that the examiner would speak a series of words, one word at a time, and he/she (the subject) should immediately say the first word which comes to his mind and that there are no right or wrong answers.
The examiner then records the reply to each word spoken by him, the reaction time and any unusual speech or behaviour manifestations which might accompany a given response. The subjects give clues for evaluating the individual’s personality.
(d) Sentence Completion Test:
In this test, the individual is presented with a series of incomplete sentences, generally open at the end, to be completed by him in one or more words. They resemble the word-association test. However, sentence completion test is regarded as superior to word association test because the subject may respond with more than one word, greater flexibility and variety of responses is possible and more areas of personality and experience may be tapped.
Some of the most commonly used sentence completion tests are:
(a) The Sack’s Sentence Completion Test,
(b) Rotter’s Incomplete Sentence Blank and
(c) Washington University’s Sentence Completion Test.
5. Situational Tests:
The term situational test became popularised during the World War II. These tests were developed and used to a great extent by the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War. Situational tests consists of certain real life situations where the students have to perform certain given activities.
Subject’s performance and behaviour with respect to such situations helps us to understand his/her personality. In the situational test, subject’s behaviour is evaluated by some trained judges or in certain cases, by his peers. A wide variety of situational tests have been used. One such test is the situational stress test designed to sample the individual’s behaviour under stressful, frustrating or emotionally disruptive conditions.
Another situational test is what is called as leaderless group discussion. In such tests, the cooperative effort of a group of examinees is required, none of whom is designated as a leader or given specific responsibilities on the basis of subject’s responses and his interpersonal interaction. The researcher or observer notes the personality characteristics of group members and notes the emergence of leadership in such leaderless group.
Some other situational tests include the ones used by the Office of Strategic Services. These tests have come to be called as OSS tests. The objective of these tests was to evaluate a candidate’s personality and give a reliable prediction of its usefulness in various military assignments.
6. Personality Inventories:
Is another method for measuring an individual’s personality, Personality inventories consist of certain statements or items or questions to which the subject has to give answers. The answers are highly specific and structured. Personality inventories deal not only with the individual’s overt behaviour, but also with his own feelings about himself, other persons and his environment, resulting from his unique biological make up and also from the effects of his experiences.
Personality inventories are generally based on the “trait approach” to the personality investigation. An attempt is made to measure the presence and strength of these traits.
Personality inventories are tests which are specifically designed to study one or more specific, well-defined characteristic of an individual’s personality. Secondly, the questions, set in the personality inventory are generally worded in the first person.
Some of the well-known personality inventories are Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) developed by J. C. Mckinley and S. R. Hathaway, the Bell Adjustment Inventory, the Edward’s Personality Preference Schedule, etc.