Monday, April 22

Where Do Personality Tests Come From?

Three woman posing together for a picture.

A person’s character can be evaluated with the help of a personality test. Personality testing and evaluation relate to methods that attempt to quantify how a person’s attributes tend to manifest themselves in different contexts. Clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and response prediction can all benefit from the information provided by personality testing.

Every day, we make inferences and generalizations about one another based on their personalities. We often make reference to various aspects of a person’s character when we speak of ourselves or others. When evaluating a person’s character, psychologists take a similar approach, though their methods are more methodical and scientific.

The History Behind Personality Tests

Phrenology, one of the earliest forms of personality testing, originated in the late 18th century and gained widespread acceptance in the 19th. By taking skull measurements, some traits were ascribed to people.

Later on, psychologists started trying to count the number of distinct features people possessed. A number greater than four thousand has been proposed by various authors, including Gordon Allport. Raymond Cattell, a psychologist, used a statistical method called factor analysis to reduce this list to 16, while Hans Eysenck reduced it to 3.

The Big Five theory of personality is currently among the most discussed frameworks for understanding human behavior. It is postulated in this theory that there are five overarching characteristics that make up a person’s personality: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.

Numerous personality tests are now widely used; many of them are grounded in well-established theories or systems of personality. A few examples of popular personality tests are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), and the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire. Learn more about where personality tests come from here.

Types of Personality Tests

Self-report inventories and projective tests are the two primary categories of personality assessments.

  • Participants in self-report inventories are asked to read items and indicate the degree to which each one pertains to them.  The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a widely used self-report inventory (MMPI).
  •  In a projective test, the examinee is shown a nebulous scene, object, or situation and then asked to provide their own explanation of what they saw. The Rorschach Inkblot Test is a famous projective test.

Using established norms and standards, self-report inventories can be standardized, which is their main advantage. Self-inventory assessments are more reliable and valid than projective exams and are also easier to perform. In contrast, psychotherapists frequently employ projective exams since they provide a wealth of information about their clients in a short amount of time.

A therapist, for instance, may consider not only a patient’s word choice on a test item but also their tone of voice and physical expressions. As treatment continues, all of these issues can be discussed in greater detail.

Reasons to Use a Personality Test

Many situations call for the use of a personality test, including:

  • Evaluating Theories
  • Assessment of therapeutic progress
  • Assessment of mental health issues
  • Analyzing shifts in personality
  • Selecting potential employees

Even in the forensic realm, personality tests can be helpful in determining risk, proving competency, and settling custody battles. Personality tests can also be administered in the fields of school psychology, vocational and career counseling, relationship therapy, clinical psychology, and the human resources department.

Helpful Tips for Taking Personality Tests

Even if you can’t train yourself to do well on a personality test, there are steps you can do to ensure an accurate reflection of your character in the results:

Tell the truth

Don’t bother trying to present a “idealized” version of yourself. Answer in a way that is authentic to who you are and how you feel.

Follow the guidelines carefully

If you are unable to follow the instructions or answer the questions, your findings may not be representative of who you are.

Don’t worry about trying to “beat the test.”

Don’t waste time attempting to second-guess what other people might consider the “correct” response to be. Be sincere in your response.

One thing is likely to stand out immediately as you begin exploring the various options for gauging one’s personality: there are a plethora of “informal” tests accessible. A quick internet search will reveal an overwhelming number of personality quizzes and tests.

Almost all of the quizzes you’ll find on the internet are merely for amusement. Though they can be fun and perhaps even enlightening, online personality tests are not to be taken as serious scientific evaluations of one’s character.

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