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Description: Want to find out about yourself? You can take a personality test. But before you do, consider whether you will be able to trust the results. Are the accurate? Stable? Predictive of how you will behave in future? How would you go about answering those questions? Well, you could just throw caution to the winds and take the test and believe the results but that is not what psychologists who work with the psychometric qualities of tests and measurements would have you do. So, perhaps, before you take the test it would be a good idea to read the article linked below for a science based explanation about just how trustworthy personality tests are.

Source: Can Your Trust Personality Tests? Rene Mottus, Psychology Today

Date: Feb 19, 2022

Image by RyanMcGuire from Pixabay

Article Link:

I think the most important point from the linked article is that the accuracy of personality tests as it is understood by the psychologists who developed and use them is not the same as the concept of accuracy discussed say by physicists using lasers to measure things accurately down to the level of microns. It is important to understand that personality tests are basically general markers of social behavioral tendencies and, given the complexity of social experiences, personality indicators understandably wiggle around a bit. This is not a bad thing it is just part of the reality of human experience. So, as the article’s author suggests, it is a good idea to reflect on what it is you are hoping that the results of a personality test will tell you and about how you might make sense of the data you receive. Second opinions are good too, but best thought of not as a search for a better answer but more as opportunities to gain a broad perspective on what it is you are trying to understand about yourself and your social world.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How accurately do personality tests assess peoples’ personalities?
  2. What other sources of data, beyond your own responses to a personality test might be worth acquiring if you are interested in your personality?
  3. Rather than thinking of your personality as the particular (fixed) way that you interact with the social world what if you paid more attention to how flexible you are in your acting in the social world? DO you act the same ways in all situations? If not how able are you to shift and change your approach based on the social situations you find yourself in? How hard is that to do? How does it work out for you? (Have a look at one or two of the Read Further links below).

References (Read Further):

Mõttus, R. (2022). What does a correlation say about me? A tutorial on translating correlational research findings to their implications for individual people. Link

Hayes, N., & Joseph, S. (2003). Big 5 correlates of three measures of subjective well-being. Personality and Individual differences, 34(4), 723-727. Link

Fleeson, W., & Jayawickreme, E. (2015). Whole trait theory. Journal of research in personality, 56, 82-92. Link

Schmukle, S. C., Back, M. D., & Egloff, B. (2008). Validity of the five-factor model for the implicit self-concept of personality. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 24(4), 263-272. Link

Paulhus, D. L., & Martin, C. L. (1988). Functional flexibility: A new conception of interpersonal flexibility. Journal of personality and social psychology, 55(1), 88. Link

Paulhus, D. L., & Martin, C. L. (1987). The structure of personality capabilities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(2), 354. Link

Pincus, A. L., Lukowitsky, M. R., & Wright, A. G. (2010). The interpersonal nexus of personality and psychopathology. In T. Millon, R. F. Krueger, & E. Simonsen (Eds.), Contemporary directions in psychopathology: Scientific foundations of the DSM-V and ICD-11 (pp. 523–552). The Guilford Press. Link