Personality testing refers to techniques that are used to accurately and consistently measure personality.
Personality is something that we informally assess and describe every day. When we talk about ourselves and others, we frequently refer to different characteristics of an individual's personality. Psychologists do much the same thing when they assess personality, but on a much more systematic and scientific level.
How Are Personality Tests Used?
- For assessing theories
- To look at changes in personality
- To evaluate the effectiveness of therapy
- Diagnosing psychological problems
- Screening job candidates
Personality tests are also sometimes used in forensic settings to conduct risk assessments, establish competence and in child custody disputes.
Types of Personality Assessment
There are two basic types of personality tests: self-report inventories and projective tests.
- involve having test-takers read questions and then rate how well the question or statement applies to them. One of the most common self-report inventories is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI.
- involve presenting the test-taker with a vague scene, object, or scenario and then asking them to give their interpretation of the test item. One well-known example of a projective test is the Rorschach Inkblot Test.
Potential Problems with Personality Testing
Each of these approaches has its own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. The greatest benefit of self-report inventories is that they can be standardized and use established norms.
They are also relatively easy to administer and have much higher reliability and validity than projective tests.
One of the biggest disadvantages of self-report inventories is that it is possible for people to engage in deception when answering questions. Even though techniques can be used to detect deception, people can still successfully provide false answers often in an effort to "fake good" or appear more socially acceptable and desirable.