Describe and evaluate contemporary use of personality measurement and testing, focusing on issues of reliability and validity, using empirical evidence to support your arguments.
Personality tests are widely used these days in both professional and informal settings. One may take a personality test online, for example; in order to determine how much like a film character they are, or they may take one in an employment process or clinical setting. This essay, however, will only be looking at formal tests. The tests have many uses, including recognizing psychological disorders or calculating future behaviour (Plotnik, 2002). It is important to note that personality tests are like any other instrument used to increase understanding of a topic and, like all instruments and methods, their use can cause both affirmative and undesirable results (Anastasi & Urbina, 1997). We will look at both projective and self-inventory tests and compare their methods in terms of their validity and reliability. There are many different personality tests available today but we are only concerned with the Rorschach Ink Blot test (henceforth referred to as the Rorschach), the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - 2 (MMPI-2). Before the discussion of validity and reliability of the tests it is essential to comprehend just what personality is and to obtain an elementary outline of the three tests being discussed.
Personality is interpreted as a mixture of a person's consistent behaviour, emotion and thought that illustrate the technique an individual exemplifies when responding to another individual or situation (Letzring, Wells & Funder, 2006). The specific reaction an individual presents is unique and affects their daily life in how they organise events, control emotions and make decisions. Eysenck (2004) outlines personality in a more thorough manner as he discusses it in terms of its stability, regularity throughout life, internalisation. It comes from within and is affected and changed by the individual, and its individuality to the person, as it differs between individuals in the same situations. The use of personality tests for psychologists, employers, and doctors to analyse a character and draw conclusions can be very useful, although what makes an accurate test of personality is a controversial topic, which will become evident as the essay progresses.
Projective tests are one type of personality test and consist of ambiguous words or images that a participant must interpret. They derive from the psychoanalytic approach of psychology suggesting that personality is governed by unconscious urges and thoughts. These images cause the participant to project internal needs and wants onto the stimulus presented (Passer & Smith, 2008). Projective tests are believed to contact the deepest levels of personality structure therefore offering an impression of the individual as a whole and not simply one characteristic of personality (Rose, Kaser-Boyd & Maloney, 2001).
The Rorschach Ink Blot test is one of the oldest projective tests, developed in 1921 by Hermann Rorschach. It consists of 10 ambiguous ink blots that a participant interprets as an image and this interpretation is analysed to create an impression of the individual's personality (Weiner, 1998). The Rorschach is a very controversial test due to the numerous different coding schemes available to it and the subjectivity of the coding between different psychologists (Blatt, 2000; Aronow, Reznikoff, & Moreland, 1995; Lilienfeld, Wood & Garb, 2000 as cited in Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2005; Rose, T., Kaser-Boyd, N. & Maloney, M. P., 2001.)
The Thematic Apperception Test is another example of a projective test. It consists of 30 ambiguous scenes that a participant has to make a story out of. The participant interprets what is happening, the emotions of the characters and the ending that will follow the scene. The psychologist then codes the...
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