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Assessing Personality

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Objective Personality Tests

Objective personality tests are usually self-report inventories. Self-report inventories are paper-and-pen tests that require people to answer questions about their typical behavior. Commonly used objective tests include the MMPI-2, the 16PF, and the NEO Personality Inventory.

The MMPI-2

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was developed in the 1940s and revised in the 1980s. The revised version is called the MMPI-2. The MMPI-2 contains a list of 567 questions. People taking the test must answer these questions with true, false, or cannot say.

The MMPI was originally developed to help clinical psychologists diagnose psychological disorders. To interpret the MMPI-2, psychologists divide the answers to questions into fourteen subscales. Ten of these subscales are clinical subscales, which give information about different aspects of the test taker’s personality. The other four subscales are validity subscales, which indicate whether the test taker was careless or deceptive when answering questions. A score on any single subscale doesn’t provide a clear indication of a specific psychological disorder. Rather, the score profile, or pattern of responses across subscales, indicates specific psychological disorders.

The 16PF

The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) is a test that assesses sixteen basic dimensions of personality. It consists of a list of 187 questions.

The NEO Personality Inventory

The NEO Personality Inventory measures the Big Five traits: extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Report Inventories

Self-report inventories are useful because they allow psychologists to get precise answers to standardized questions. In other words, all subjects who take a test answer the same questions, and all subjects have to select answers from the same range of options. Inventories are also objective, which means that different people scoring the same test would score them in the same way. However, these scores might be interpreted differently by different people.