Limitations of Self-Report Data

Topics: Psychometrics, Personality disorder, Borderline personality disorder Pages: 8 (2361 words) Published: August 11, 2011

Assignment 2
Limitation of Self-Report Data
Samantha, BScOT

Faculty of Behavioral Sciences,
Theories of Personality
August 8, 2011

There has been a rapid increase in the development of web based psychological self-help sites over the past decade. Many of these sites offer test and measures focusing on various aspect of personality and psychological functioning. The tests on the websites use self-report data to obtain information. While self-report data is easily obtained and is considered a reliable source of information in most circumstances, it is not without its limitations. This paper will examine the limitations of self-report data (S-Data) using the “Personality Disorder Test” obtained from the website Literature Review: An Overview of Self-Report Data

Self-Report Data (S-Data) is data obtained about the individual from individual’s own perspective. Often used in psychological questionnaires, S-Data is easy to obtain and, assuming the individual has insight, is considered to be “expert knowledge” (Dyce, n.d.c). The Big Five is an example of Self-Report Questionnaire, as are the MMPI and NEO PR-I. Information obtained by self report, while easy and simple, is prone to issues which affect the validity and reliability of the assessment outcome. This report will use the “ Disorder Test” to explore the limitations to data obtained through self reported questionnaires and assessments. Limitations of Self-report Data

There are a number of issues which are present when using self-reporting as a measurement for personality disorder or any other psychological assessment. This is particularly true if the self-report is the only for of assessment being used to determine a diagnosis or to categorize an individual into personality disorder realms. A paper by Razavi (2001) suggests that validity is questionable if self-report data is used for both dependent and independent variables. Dyce (n.d.a & b) indicates that self-report data has a number of limitations which are classified into the following distortions:

1. Impression Management- the individual makes a conscious effort to present the self in a particular way so that they will appear socially desirable.
2. Self Deception Enhancement- the individual unconsciously has a distorted perception of how they present themselves and answers based on the distortion.
3. Acquiescence- individual answers yes to all answers regardless of the question or answers no to all questions regardless of the question.
4. Random responder
Other response distortions include: negative affectivity bias, extreme and moderacy response styles; or faking “better” or “worse” in regards to symptoms present (Razavi, 2001).
While a question on an assessment may be targeting a certain aspect of a person’s psychological make up, the likelihood that the individual completing the test will answer based on the assessors intended purpose of the question is very rare. It is important to keep in mind that answers on a self-report questionnaire are influenced by the individual’s emotional state, their socioeconomic status, their ability to understand and interpret the question being asked, and the contextual aspect of the question (Razavi, 2001).

Vallejo et al. (2007) also suggest that beyond the mentioned distortions, limitations include method variance and monomethod bias, the validity and reliability of the questionnaire scales as well as how the questionnaires are used, how the data is actually analysed and what statistical outcomes may be obtained from the information and for what purpose this information will be used.

Method and Results
In order to better understand the limitations of S-Data in the assessment of personality completion of the “Personality Disorder Test” was undertaken by the writer. The Personality Disorder Test is available on...

References: Dyce, J. (n.d.a). Introduction to personality. PSYC6113 Professor’s PowerPoint Notes. [MS Word PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved on August 1, 2011 from
Dyce, J. (n.d.b).Introduction to personality. PSYC6113 Professor’s PowerPoint Notes. [Audio recordings].  Retrieved on August 1, 2011 from
Dyce, J. (n.d.c). Psychometrics, assessment and research design. PSYC6113 Professor’s PowerPoint Notes. [Audio recordings].  Retrieved on August 1, 2011 from
Personality Disorder Test. Retrieved on July 24, 2011 from
Naglieri, J.A. (2004). Psychological testing on the internet: New problems, old issues. American Psychological Association. 59(3): 150-162.
Razavi, T. (2001). Self-report measures: An overview of concerns and limitations of questionnaire use in occupational stress research. Retrieved on August 4, 2011 from
Vallejo, M. A., et al. (2007). Psychological assessment via the internet: A reliability and validity study of online (vs paper-and-pencil) versions of the general health questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28) and the symptoms check-list-90-revised (SCL-90-R).PsychJ Med Internet Res. 9(1). Doi:  10.2196/jmir.9.1.e2
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