Personality Assessment Instruments Comparison

1 January 2017

Personality assessment instruments continue to be widely uses by the public and widely examined by the public. Since the early 20th century a number of personality instruments have been very useful in classifying personality traits, while other test instruments have shown to be antiquated. The Myer-Briggs, Apperception test and self-help books all have confidence that they can deliver a concrete view on differences in personalities. They allow you to know an individual’s personality type along with an examination into how these different assessments may be of importance to the everyday person.

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As the degree to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure, validity is a difficult property to evaluate in a test. Consider tests of intelligence. Many people are skeptical of the results of these tests. Some people are concerned that the tests measure only book learning and do not test common sense (Anastasi, 1988). Other people feel that intelligence tests have cultural, racial, and gender biases. Therefore, to conclude that a test is a valid measure of intelligence, it must be shown that the test measures intelligence independent of the test subjects education, culture, race, and sex.

The Validity of MBTI- Many studies over the years have proven the validity of the MBTI instrument in three categories: (1) the validity of the four separate preference scales; (2) the validity of the four preference pairs as dichotomies; and (3) the validity of whole types or particular combinations of preferences. The MBTI is a very popular test of personality. Each year millions of copies of the test are administered in the workplace, schools, churches, community groups, management workshops, and counseling centers.

Many people see the MBTI as an invaluable tool that helps them understand their own behavior as well as the behavior of others. In spite of the popularity of the MBTI, there are many problems with its use. There is a large body of research that suggests that the claims made about the MBTI cannot be supported. While the MBTI appears to measure something, many psychologists are not convinced that any significant conclusions can be based on the test. The validity scores of a test estimate how well the test measures what it purports to measure.

Personality assessment tests usually produce validity scores for each of the individual traits measured. When scores on the traits of a test compare well with scores on similar traits on other tests, the test is said to have good concurrent validity. Validity coefficients were computed on each of the four INSIGHT Inventory traits by comparing these to the traits measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Sixteen Personality factors (16PF), and Holland Self-Directed Search (SDS).

This data comprises a large section of the INSIGHT Technical Manual and users are encouraged to review those pages and tables (Anastasi, 1988). Very strong support for the validity of the traits measured by the INSIGHT Inventory was garnered (Anastasi, 1988). Comprehensiveness of the MBTI prompts us of the truth that all people are not alike, but then claims that every person can be fit neatly into one of 16 boxes. The MBTI attempts to force the intricacies of human personality into a synthetic and restraining classification scheme.

The focus on the typing of people reduces the attention paid to the unique qualities and potential of each individual. Because of its apparent simplicity, the MBTI may be misused unintentionally by some people. A manager, for example, may come to believe that only certain personality types are appropriate for specific jobs. In terms of applicability, the Myers-Briggs instrument reports preferences, not skills, or accomplishments. Type theory provides a framework for predicting and interpreting data on motivation, aptitude, achievement, communication styles, and career patterns.

The Myers-Briggs instrument could be used to help counsel participants who are deciding what career path might best fit their personality. The Myers-Briggs instrument is also used in trying to match personalities compatible for marriage, teamwork, and can be helpful in understanding group dynamics. Some individuals use the results of the Myers-Briggs test for professional and personal development (Anastasi, 1988). As the modern world moves toward a more global society, interest in multicultural use of the MBTI has exploded.

Both Jung and Myers felt that psychological type is universal. If so, the implications of promoting understanding between cultures and increasing appreciation of diversity within a culture are significant. Consulting Psychological Press listed 14 commercial translations and 15 translations being tested as research instruments in 1996 (Butcher & Rouse, 1996). One important problem in developing translations is separation of underlying type patterns from culturally influenced behaviors.

When it is used with appropriate explanation of psychological type, significant success has been reported by practitioners using the MBTI in a wide variety of cultures both in developing nations and industrialized societies. Reliability and validity studies to date indicate significant reliability when used with English-speaking populations or those with a reasonable command of English, and that the MBTI does indicate respondents’ Jungian type preferences in the cultures in which it is being used.

Research issues include the investigation of whole type multicultural as well as individual preferences, and the dynamics of interaction of individuals and their culture (Butcher & Rouse, 1996). The MBTI is an important tool in investigating health, stress, and coping variables, and in using knowledge thus gained to tailor prevention and treatment programs to the person’s type. Shelton reviews research using the MBTI to study physiological differences according to type, to relate the incidence of several disease processes and type, to relate stress and coping to type, and to study the outcome of a stress reduction treatment program.

The third edition of the MBTI Manual (1998/2003) includes a section on the implications of research on health, stress, and coping with stress in its chapter on the use of type in counseling and psychotherapy. While type has not been assessed in all cultural societies, it has been surveyed in about 30 countries on all continents, some with more than one culture. So far, the studies have suggested the following: All type preferences (E-I, S-N, T-F, and J-P) appear in all cultures studied to date.

People in different cultures report that the descriptions of the individual preferences make sense to them however, they find value and usefulness in using type concepts in various ways, for example, to improve interactions and communication between diverse individuals and within groups. The Myers-Briggs instrument is available in about 20 foreign languages. Alternative versions of the Myers-Briggs instrument has been scientifically customized and validated for other languages and cultures for which a straight translation of English language terms would yield inaccurate results (Anastasi, 1988).

The Myers-Briggs instrument still has several languages missing from its repertoire and not all cultures have an understanding of a multiple choice questionnaire. The Thematic Apperception Test, or TAT, is a projective measure intended to evaluate a person’s patterns of thought, attitudes, observational capacity, and emotional responses to ambiguous test materials (Locraft & Teglasi, 1997). In the case of the TAT, the ambiguous materials consist of a set of cards that portray human figures in a variety of settings and situations.

The subject is asked to tell the examiner a story about each card that includes the following elements: the event shown in the picture; what has led up to it; what the characters in the picture are feeling and thinking; and the outcome of the event. The creators of the TAT, Christina Morgan, and Henry Murray, applied storytelling using pictured scenes to reveal motives, intentions, and expectations (Locraft & Teglasi, 1997).

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