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Personality Psychology

Personality Psychology

Definition of Personality

Personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognition, motivations, and behaviors in various situations.

The word "personality" originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. Significantly, in the theater of the ancient Latin.

Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies personality and individual differences. Its areas of focus include:

  • Constructing a coherent picture of a person and his or her major psychological processes.
  • Investigating individual differences, that is, how people can differ from one another.
  • Investigating human nature, that is, how all people's behavior is similar.

Personality Disorders

(According to Zimbardo & Gerrig 'Psychology & Life 1996)

"A personality disorder is longstanding (chronic), inflexible, maladaptive pattern of perceiving, thinking and behaving".

Personnel Selection Methods - Personality Tests

Personality Tests: A selection procedure measure the personality characteristics of applicants that are related to future job performance. Personality tests typically measure one or more of five personality dimensions: extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.

  • Can result in lower turnover due if applicants are selected for traits that are highly correlated with employees who have high longevity within the organization.
  • Can reveal more information about applicant's abilities and interests.
  • Can identify interpersonal traits that may be needed for certain jobs.

  • Difficult to measure personality traits that may not be well defined.
  • Applicant's training and experience may have greater impact on job performance than applicant's personality.
  • Responses by applicant may may be altered by applicant's desire to respond in a way they feel would result in their selection.
  • Lack of diversity if all selected applicants have same personality traits.
  • Cost may be prohibitive for both the test and interpretation of results.
  • Lack of evidence to support validity of use of personality tests.
  • Select traits carefully an employer that selects applicants with high degree of 'assertiveness', 'independence', and 'self-confidence' may end up excluding females significantly more than males which would result in adverse impact.
  • Select tests carefully Any tests should have been analyzed for (high) reliability and (low) adverse impact.
  • Not used exclusively Personality tests should not be the sole instrument used for selecting applicants. Rather, they should be used in conjunction with other procedures as one element of the selection process. Applicants should not be selected on the basis of personality tests alone.

Types of Personality Tests

1. Personal Attribute Inventory.

An interpersonal assessment instrument which consists of 50 positive and 50 negative adjectives from Gough's Adjective Check List. The subject is to select 30 which are most descriptive of the target group or person in question. This instrument was specifically designed to tap effective reactions and may be used in either assessing attitudes toward others or as a self-concept scale.

2. Personality Adjective Checklist.

A comprehensive, objective measure of eight personality styles (which are closely aligned with DSM-III-R Axis II constructs). These eight personality styles are: introversive, inhibited, cooperative, sociable, confident, forceful, respectful, and sensitive. This instrument is designed for use with non-psychiatric patients and normal adults who read minimally at the eighth grade level. 

Test reports are computer-generated and are intended for use by qualified professionals only. Interpretive statements are based on empirical data and theoretical inference. They are considered probabilistic in nature and cannot be considered definitive.

3. Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory.

Self-scoring six-point rating scale is a training instrument designed to provide feedback to individuals about their potential for cross-cultural effectiveness. It is most effective when used as part of a training program. It can also be used as a team-building tool for culturally diverse work groups and as a counseling tool for people in the process of cross-cultural adjustment. The inventory contains 50 items, distributed among 4 sub-scales:
  • Emotional resilience,
  • Flexibility/openness,
  • Perceptual acuity,
  • Personal autonomy,
4. California Psychological Inventory.Multipurpose questionnaire designed to assess normal personality characteristics important in everyday life that individuals make use of to understand, classify, and predict their own behaviors and that of others. In this revision, two new scales, empathy and independence, have been added; semantic changes were made in 29 items; and 18 items were eliminated. 

The inventory is applicable for use in a variety of settings, including business and industry, schools and colleges, clinics and counseling agencies, and for cross cultural and other research. May be used to advise employees/applicants about their vocational plans.

Summary of Personality Tests

  1. Since there is not a correct answer to personality tests, the scoring of the procedure could be questioned.
  2. Recent litigation has suggested that some items for these types of tests may be too intrusive (Soroka v. Dayton Hudson, 1991).
  3. This technique lacks face validity. In other words, it would be difficult to show how individual questions on certain personality measures are job related even if the overall personality scale is a valid predictor of job performance.
  4. Hooke and Krauss (1971) administered three (3) tests to sergeant candidates; the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the Allport-Vemon-Lindzey Study of Values, and the Gough Adjective Check List. These tests did not differentiate candidates rated as good sergeant material from those rates as poorer candidates. The researchers concluded that the groups may have been so similar that these tests were not sensitive enough to differentiate them.

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