Popular Personality Tests
Psychological tests are often used to assess different aspects of an individual's personality, and can range from formal tests administered by psychologists to informal assessments that you perform on an almost daily basis. First impressions are often the most judgmental exchanges humans can have with each other. Stereotypes can be placed upon people based on the kind of clothes they wear, the people they are with, or even the type of food they eat. For instance, upon meeting someone for the first time, you notice his nose is pierced. In just an instant, you conjure up images of punk rockers, motorcycle gangs, and other rebels of society. Sleeves of tattoos must surely be hidden under that long-sleeved sweater! By solely focusing on his pierced nose, you've given it such a high level of importance that all your judgments of him were based on that one aspect of his personality. However, more substantial methods have been developed to assess personality. These include observational methods, personality inventories, and projective techniques.
If you are interested in taking a personality test in your spare time, you can find several on the Internet. However, as many of these are not proved to be accurate, don't put too much faith in the results. Regardless, they can be a fun way to pass time and perhaps learn a bit more about yourself.
People can be observed by watching them in their natural settings, placing them in difficult situations to see how well they perform, and by conducting an interview. The interview can be unstructured (the majority of the information revealed is decided by the interviewee) or structured (the interviewer covers predetermined topics in order to compare and contrast, for example, multiple job applicants). Rating scales are also popular when conducting job interviews. An example of what might be rated includes but is not limited to self-confidence, poise, emotional stability, interaction with others, personal relationships, and initiative.
Self-observations are measured by an individual's personal inventories in which a questionnaire, much like Cattell's factor analysis and yes-or-no test, is presented to the person so their feelings, thoughts, and reactions to situations can be recorded and analyzed. Both the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) feature statements that measure personality traits.
The MMPI was initially geared toward people with personality disorders or serious mental illness, but it has also been used extensively in examining typical personality traits. The MMPI does not encompass a broad enough range to measure “normal” personalities; therefore, others have been developed that better address that. The CPI, for one, includes a measure of academic capabilities.
The most recognizable example of projective techniques is the famous inkblot series that comprise the Rorschach test. Developed by Hermann Rorschach (1884–1922) in the 1920s, the test is conducted by presenting a person with an inkblot. The person is asked to look at it and describe everything he thinks the inkblot looks like. The idea is to get the person's initial response (open-minded, agitated, insightful, disagreeable) so a personality evaluation can be determined. Extensive training, more than that of any other test, is required in order to make professional assessments.
Rorschach came up with the idea for the inkblot test after observing a game of “Blotto” that children were playing in a psychiatric hospital. He happened to notice the differences in answers given and how these answers could provide insight into the children's minds; thus the Rorschach test was born.
A similar test called the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), created by Henry Murray (1893–1988) in the 1920s, presents up to twenty photographs of ambiguous subjects to individuals who, in turn, create their own stories about what is taking place or what is about to take place in the illustration. As the story is being told, the psychologist picks up on the underlying messages by looking for clues to the person's motives, emotions, and characteristics.
Both tests are used as a starting point in predicting behavior and are considered in conjunction with further investigation such as the person's observed attitudes, or life history.