Course work on personality assessment and theories

Personality Assessment and Theories

In order to assess and test personality psychologists use four general methods: direct observation, personal interview, projective and objective tests. These methods are commonly associated with the major theories of personality in the following way: in the psychodynamic theory projective tests and personal interviews are used, as in here it is important to understand the unconscious thoughts, motives and feelings of a person, as well as the problems that are repressed since childhood. In the trait theory objective tests are used for personality assessment, as they allow to reveal and observe relatively permanent dispositions of individuals, which condition their thoughts, feelings and actions. In the humanistic theory personal interviews and objective tests are applied, as they allow to analyze the drive to high level of functioning and personal growth. In the social learning theory three tools are used: interviews, objective tests and observations, as they can help to understand the way past punishment and reinforcement influenced the personality, as well as observations of the way other people behaved (Maisto & Morris, 2005).
The first assessment tool, personal interview, is aimed at obtaining information from the person who is interviewed. There can be structured and unstructured interviews. The first type is more commonly used when conducting systematic research of personality. In it interviewer adheres to predetermined structure and set of questions. In this way, it is possible to compare the answers obtained from all the interviewees. Structured interview is more effective when it is necessary to obtain some data on sensitive topics. Unstructured interviews presuppose free flow of conversation – when interviewer asks any questions that are appropriate for the objectives of the study.
Direct observation tool is dedicated to observation of people’s actions in their daily activities usually for a long period of time. They help to determine the way different situations influence people’s behavior, and the range of such behaviors a person demonstrates. There is a risk that observer can misinterpret the actions he sees, but still this tool can create quite an accurate picture of behavior.
Objective tests allow to be on the safe side and not to rely on the skills of interviewers and observers when assessing the personality. Usually, they have a written form and are structured so as people could give ‘ yes’ or ‘ no’ answers to them. Although they are most widely used, there are two major drawbacks: their basis is self-report, which means that they are effective if people know themselves well and are objective; and besides, if people are used to passing such tests, their results can be faked (Maisto & Morris, 2005). The test at http://similarminds. com/jung_word. html is of objective type, as it consists of nominal questions that presuppose definite answers. I passed the test several times and can say that it showed a realistic picture of my personality as I see it. I think that it is conditioned by the fact that I know my personality quite well and was honest when answering the questions.
Projective tests usually represent a set of some ambiguous stimuli, which can cause infinite number of responses. Usually, people have to describe what they see in some meaningless pictures, or they are asked to complete sentence fragments (Cherry, n. d.). This kind of tests has certain advantages over the objective type, as they are much more flexible and people usually pass them in relaxed atmosphere, which allows them to concentrate and be honest. Besides, the way in which their answers can be interpreted is unknown to people, which is why there is practically no chance that they could fake their answers. The main limitation of projective tests is the way they depend on the skills of psychologist.


Cherry, K. (n. d.). What is a projective test? Retrieved from http://psychology. about. com/od/psychologicaltesting/f/projective-tests. htm
Maisto, A. A., & Morris, C. G. (2005). Psychology: An Introduction. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.