Organizational Psychology (PSY510)
Personality assessment may be defines as the measurement of personality and behavior. Personality testing
tells us about:
a) a person's coping in general with stress and life, sometimes by creating a stressful situation in the act of
testing, giving us a chance to watch the person react, make sense of something that is senseless, or
assign meaning to things and explain their thoughts
b) how a person copes with specific stressful situations or demands, and more about how they are
handling matters now (e.g., seriously depressed and suicidal)
c) some question put to us by others, like ability to hold some job, reach some goal, or likelihood of
behaving in some way
d) providing therapy and providing self-understanding for the client regarding strengths and weaknesses
A personality test aims to describe aspects of a person's character that remain stable throughout a person's
lifetime, the individual's character pattern of behavior, thoughts, and feelings. An early model of personality
was posited by Greek philosopher/physician Hippocrates. The 20th century heralded a new interest in
defining and identifying separate personality types, in close correlation with the emergence of the field of
psychology. As such, several distinct tests emerged; some attempt to identify specific characteristics, while
others attempt to identify personality as a whole.
It is essential that the measurement used for personality be:
This means that the measuring device is consistent in measuring the personality. Primary measures of
Stability across time (test-retest reliability).
Validity refers to how well does the test correlate with other psychological variables the test claims to
measure. For example, how well do SAT or ACT scores predict success in college. This type of validity is
known as Criterion Validity
This refers to the test being applicable to different people under different circumstances. In other words,
the test should be usable at different organizations for testing different people and should not be specific.
Imagine that this test is administered to the same group of people twice, with 6 weeks of time elapsing
between test times. Good test-retest reliability would mean that someone's 2nd score would be reasonable
close to their first score. That is, the test would correlate highly with itself over time and 2 different
administrations. Poor test-retest reliability would mean that a test would not be able to predict itself over
The level of reliability sets an upper limit on the level of validity a test may have. For example, if the test-
retest reliability of the SAT is r=.6, the validity correlation of the SAT predicting college G.P.A. will never
be greater than r=.6
Personality tests measure:
· Information on resources and problem solving styles, impulses and impulse control, coping skills and
level of adjustment.
· Emotional ability or stability, emotional coping (master of my emotions or slave to them), insight into
feelings and their sources, specific feelings that may be hard to deal with, affective sense of oneself
(good vs. bad, strong vs. vulnerable), and defenses and ability/flexibility in using them.
· Relationship quality, stability, and potential, empathy and it's depth, and strategy for meeting needs.
Basic Categories of Measures
Three basic categories of measure have been developed:
Objective (Standardized) tests like the MMPI and Millon take standard questions which research shows can
help us classify people, give them to the patient, and then compare the client's answers to the answers given
by certain groups. The MMPI was designed to diagnose patients for psychiatrists, and the Millon forces
Organizational Psychology (PSY510)
people into categories Objective tests are actually psychological tests which are based on Freudian
Psychology (Psychoanalysis) and seek to expose the unconscious perceptions of people. Conversely,
objective tests generally explore an individual's conscious thoughts and feelings. Objective tests tend to be
more reliable and valid than projective tests.
Examples of objective tests:
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or MMPI is the most frequently used clinical test. Therefore,
it is employed quite often in court cases to provide personality information on defendants or litigants in
which psychological adjustment factors are pertinent to resolution of the case. It is easy to administer and
provides an objective measure of personality. Since it is such a well-researched and highly reliable
instrument, it is often used in custody evaluations. It provides clear, valid descriptions of people's
problems, symptoms, and characteristics in broadly accepted clinical language. The profiles are easy to
explain in court and appear to be relatively easy for people to understand. The Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory, or MMPI, was developed in the late 1930s by a psychologist and a psychiatrist at the
University of Minnesota. It was originally intended for use with an adult population, but was then extended
to include teenagers, mostly for teens in the middle years, about 15 and 16.
The 16PF was developed from the work of Dr. Raymond Cattell and his factor analysis over 45 years ago. It
has 16 different scales that measure things like anxiety, liveliness, dominance, sensitivity, perfectionism,
openness to change, group-orientation, and more. The factors are further grouped together into global
factors: self-control, anxiety, extraversion, independence, and tough-mindedness.
Projective tests are based partially on Freudian ideas of projection. Freud thought we project parts of
ourselves we can't accept onto objects or people. It's a way to expel parts of us we can't handle but still deal
with them. He thought you were, by definition, unconscious of the process. A projective test, in psychology,
is a personality test designed to let a person respond to ambiguous stimuli, presumably revealing hidden
emotions and internal conflicts. This is different from an "objective test" in which responses are analyzed
according to a universal standard (for example, a multiple choice exam) rather than an individual's
Example of projective tests
Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT)
Historically, the Thematic Apperception Test or TAT has been amongst the most widely used, researched,
and taught projective psychological tests. Its adherents claim that it taps a subject's unconscious to reveal
repressed aspects of personality, motives and needs for achievement, power and intimacy, and problem-
The TAT is popularly known as the picture interpretation technique because it uses a standard series of 30
provocative yet ambiguous pictures about which the subject must tell a story. TAT was developed by the
American psychologists Henry A. Murray and Christiana D. Morgan at Harvard during the 1930s to explore
the underlying dynamics of personality, such as internal conflicts, dominant drives, interests, and motives.
Situational Tests present applicants with realistic, hypothetical scenarios and ask them to identify an
appropriate response. Situational Tests are being used increasingly and for various purposes. For example,
they are often used as a sift tool for external applicants, as part of selection in an internal promotion
process, and as a development tool by providing useful feedback on how the candidate's responses compare
to the ideal response.
Some recent work on personality testing also measures the big five:
The degree to which a person is sociable, talkative, assertive, and comfortable, with interpersonal
The degree to which a person is able to get along with others by being good-natured, cooperative,
forgiving, understanding, and trusting
Organizational Psychology (PSY510)
The degree to which a person is focused on a few goals, thus behaving in ways that are responsible,
dependable, persistent, and achievement oriented
The degree to which a person is calm, enthusiastic, and secure, rather than tense, nervous, depressed,
moody, or insecure
Openness to experience
The degree to which a person has a broad range of interests and is imaginative, creative, artistically
sensitive, and willing to consider new ideas
A person with all these qualities will be a asset for the organization.
Creighton, P. & Scott, N. (2006). An Introduction to Situational Judgement Inventories. Selection and
Development Review, 22, 3 6.
McDaniel, M.A, Morgeson, F.P., Finnegan, E.B., Campion, M.A. & Braverman, E.P. (2001). Use of
Situational Judgement Tests to Predict Job Performance: A Clarification of the Literature. Journal of
Applied Psychology, 86, 730 740
Weekley, J.A. & Jones, C. (1999). Further Studies of Situational Tests. Personnel Psychology, 52, 679 700
McCrae, R.R., & Costa, P.T. (1997) Personality trait structure as a human universal. American
Psychologist, 52, 509-516.
Personality Theories: psychology: http://brainmeta.com/personality
Erik Erikson in Personality Synopsis at ALLPSYCH Online:
Personality Psychology - Wikipedia: Overview of the branch of psychology that studies personality
traits and individual differences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_psychology - 78k - Cached -
More from this site
Personality measures: http://www.uwm.edu/~hynan/205/205PERAS06.htm
MMPI details: www.falseallegations.com/mmpi-bw.htm
Table of Contents: