The main goals of psychometry are the measurement of variables that determine behavior and compare different individuals in such dimensions. In the context of personality psychology, these goals manifest themselves primarily in the quantification of personality traits in order to predict behavior in a probabilistic manner.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, a large number of assessment tests have been designed to assess personality. In this article we will describe the 5 main types of personality test, Which are applied primarily in academic and work contexts and, in the case of those measuring psychopathological characteristics, in that of clinical psychology.
Personality test type
Instruments used to assess personality are generally classified according to the methodological criteria that determined its construction. In any case, most of these tests are based on the numerical measurement of personality constructs and the comparison of the individual assessed with others.
We thus find the tests of rational personality, today practically obsolete, the empirical tests (which are based on external criteria), the factorial tests, in which the items are grouped in traits, and those which combine more than one of the criteria. previous; in this sense, the tests created by Millon and Cloninger are particularly remarkable.
1. Rational or deductive
Rational or deductive tests are built from elements theoretically linked to the variables to be measured. For this, the test authors are based on hypothetical criteria and it is assumed that there is a correlation between these and the test items.
In 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, American psychologist Robert Sessions Woodworth created the first personality assessment test. The “Woodsworth Personal Data Sheet” (PDS) was a psychopathological screening test which aimed to detect the predisposition to neurosis in soldiers.
The PDS consisted of 116 items, which consisted of dichotomous response (“Yes / No”) questions such as “Are any thoughts going through your mind that keep you awake?” and “Do you have a strong desire to kill yourself?”. It was a test very likely to be tampered with by men who wanted to avoid military service.
Rational personality tests are the least common of all types ASAP they were replaced by others based on empirical and factorial criteria, Which lead to more reliable and valid evaluation instruments. However, and as we will see later, some authors combine rational criteria with different criteria.
2. Empirical (based on an external criterion)
Instruments in this class focus on the assessment of correlation between the subjects’ responses to the evaluation items and an external criterion determined; thus, the test items should be useful in predicting the relevant dimension.
In these cases, a group of subjects presenting certain characteristics (such as a psychological disorder) is evaluated and the items are analyzed in order to choose the most representative of the criterion variable. From these, the final test is constructed, which is applied to other subjects in order to assess the same construct.
The most well-known empirical personality test is the Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory (MMPI), Developed by Starke R. Hathaway and Charnley McKinley in 1942. The MMPI is particularly useful in assessing the presence of personality traits relevant to psychopathology, such as paranoia, depression, or social introversion.
3. Factorial or characteristic test
The most successful personality factor tests. These tests assess several factors, that is, sets of items that correlate with each other; for example, the “cordiality” factor would be made up of items that assess aspects such as frankness, modesty, altruism or sensitivity to the needs of others.
Raymond B. Cattell Factorial Personality Questionnaire, Better known as “16 PF”, has long been one of the most widely used personality tests. This test assesses 16 first-order (or core) factors which are grouped into 4 larger factors: rebellion, self-sufficiency, self-control and tension.
However, right now the hegemonic personality test is Costa and McCrae’s NEO-PI-R inventory, which is also based on factor criteria. this is it fits into the model of the five main personality factors, Built from research data and with contributions from many different experts.
4. Mixed (with combined criteria)
Some personality tests cannot be considered strictly rational, empirical or factorial, but have been constructed from a combination of criteria. One of the tests that best illustrates this type of methodology is Theodore Millon’s Multiaxial Clinical Inventory (MCMI), from which different tests have been derived.
The MCMI was constructed using the three criteria that we talked about. This author first relied on his own theory to choose a large number of items (rational strategy), then he selected a small part by comparing them to external (empirical) criteria and finally identified the correlations between the elements (factorials).