The need for personality inventories was first felt during the First World War when the scrutiny of emotionally unstable soldiers had to be done. This is the most popular method of personality assessment. In this method statements about certain traits of personality are constructed and the testee is required to answer them as ”right/wrong” or ”yes/no”. For example,
Persons may differ over the responses they give for each of the above questions as it depends on their experiences and life situations. One persona may not get sleep because of excitement, another person may not get sleep because of feelings of rejection by the parents and yet another person may not feel sleepy because of some constant worries about his own future.
In personality inventories, there are no right or wrong answers. Because the person himself reports about his problems and based on what the individual provides as information the responses are interpreted. These inventories are called self-report inventories as then person himself or herself responds to these questions. These are constructed according to certain norms, scientific techniques and are put through many steps of validation and standardisation. Hence, these tests are also called as psychometric tests.
Personality theorists and researchers seek to define and to understand the diversity of human traits, the many ways people have of thinking and perceiving and learning and emoting. Such nonmaterial human dimensions, types, and attributes are called constructs form which inferences are dawn form observed behaviours. The personality constructs which have been researched considerably include the construct of anxiety, hostility, emotionality, motivation, and introversion-extroversion.
Efforts to measure personality constructs stem from a variety of sources. These generally originate from theories of personality. For instance anxiety and repression (the forgetting of unpleasant experience), for example, are among the central concepts of the theory of psychoanalysis. Understandably, efforts would be made to quantify one’s degree of anxiety, for example, and to use the score thus obtained in the assessment of and in the prediction of future behaviour.
Efforts to measure any given personality construct can fail as a result of inadequacies in formulating or defining the trait to be measured and weaknesses in the assessment methods employed. For instance, a psychologist who is trying to test an individual’s personality may like to quantify what has been measured and interpret the same qualitatively. For example, he may try to see what is the degree of depression in the individual through a personality test and then interpret the same. This would involve the theoretical system which he subscribes to and thus if it is psychoanalytical he might say the depression is due to repressed wishes that have not been fulfilled and depression is a way of manifesting those unfulfilled desires and wishes.
To give another example, a psychologist may like to specify quantitatively the degree to which individuals are submissive in social and competitive situations. The effectiveness will depend on the particular theory of submissiveness the individual brings to bear on the problem. As for the actual procedures, the psychologist will select a test that would measure submissiveness or the psychologist may devise a test by herself to measure the submissiveness. Once a test has been devised it is put under many rigorous testing so as to standardize the same and the psychologist would try to demonstrate how the test exactly measures the submissiveness construct. Each of these tasks must be considered carefully in evaluating efforts to measure personality attributes.
Today the number of personality inventories is countless. However, we will discuss a few important and widely used personality inventories which are as follows.
- Cattell’s 16 PF scale
- Bell Adjustment Inventory
- California Psychological Inventory
- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality (MMPI)
- Merits and Demerits of Inventories