The methods to assess personality can be discussed as numerous while referring to the variety of tests proposed to draw inferences about the client’s personality traits and psychological state. However, there is the issue which is associated with the necessity to classify tests used by psychologists in order to assess personality.
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The terms ‘objective’ and ‘projective’ are traditionally used in practice and theory in order to distinguish between two groups of tests developed to assess personality, and these tests are different in relation to the utilized data and approaches.
Nevertheless, in their article “Advancing Personality Assessment Terminology: Time to Retire “Objective” and “Projective” as Personality Test Descriptors” (2006), Meyer and Kurtz state that it is necessary to avoid using these terms in order to classify the tests because the use of this terminology leads to misunderstanding the nature of tests and expected results (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 223).
Thus, Meyer and Kurtz note that such traditional personality test descriptors as the terms ‘objective’ and ‘projective’ are rather outdated, and they have multiple misleading meanings and connotations, and as a result, the use of these names can cause misunderstandings and inadequate interpretation of results; to discuss this idea, it is important to focus on the authors’ considerations in detail and refer to them while describing the selected personality test.
The Historical Use of the Terms ‘Objective’ and ‘Projective’ to Classify Personality Tests
To discuss personality assessment instruments, it is convenient to use the certain test classification. During the decades, psychologists were choosing the focus on the dichotomous features of tests. Furthermore, psychologists also distinguished between many objective and projective tests (Cohen, Swerdlik, & Sturman, 2012, p. 134-138; Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 223).
The historical use of these terms can be explained with references to the fact that psychologists were inclined to accentuate the differences in the test types, and the terms ‘objective’ and ‘projective’ were the most effective variants to classify the assessment tools.
However, there is a range of problems associated with the use of the terms ‘objective’ and ‘projective’ in the context of test classification. Thus, the term ‘objective’ is historically used to determine the tests in which adjectives and questions serve as the stimulus in order to make the personality assess oneself rather objectively. In this case, objectivity is meant as the impossibility of the assessor to influence the tests’ score and results.
Nevertheless, the problem is in the fact that the results received with the help of this test cannot be discussed as objective in their nature. According to Meyer and Kurtz, the features of tests labeled as ‘objective’ cannot be discussed according to the idea of objectivity because of the range of additional connotations which should be taken into consideration while interpreting the results (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 223).
That is why, psychologists often focus on the objective tests in their practice because these instruments are expected to provide the most reliable results, but these assessments are not truly objective, when researchers discuss them in the context of many meanings of the term ‘objective’.
While referring to the historical use of the term ‘projective’, it is important to note that psychologists often discuss tests as ‘projective’ when the used stimulus can be described as the definite activity or a task. In many cases, the term ‘projective’ is used in order to accentuate the fact that the used test is not objective in its nature and it is based on performing the concrete task.
However, Meyer and Kurtz stress on the fact that the tests labeled as ‘projective’ cannot be discussed as connected with the idea of ‘projection’ (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 223-224). As a result, the assessed person has the opportunity to project his or her characteristics and attributes rather indirectly.
Nevertheless, it is quite unreasonable to discuss all the ‘non-objective’ tests as ‘projective’ ones, and the problem is in the complexity of the instruments which are typically used to assess personality with the help of different tasks and activities.
Meyer and Kurtz’s Suggestions Related to Referring to Specific Tests
In their article, Meyer and Kurtz suggest several names in order to be used in the psychologists’ practice and in theory as alternatives to such outdated terms as ‘objective’ and ‘projective’. The terms used to classify personality assessment tests should be chosen carefully in order to reflect the nature of the tests and expected results adequately.
Thus, Meyer and Kurtz pay attention to the fact that it is possible to use such terms as ‘self-report inventories’ and ‘patient-rated questionnaires’ while speaking about the tests which previously were referred to as ‘objective’ ones (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 224).
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In this case, the nature of tests is reflected more adequately because the majority of tests known as ‘objective’ are oriented to assessing the person’s certain traits with the focus on his or her answers to a range of questions.
If objective tests can be distinguished as self-report assessments, it is rather difficult to find the appropriate name for the tests previously known as ‘projective’. According to Meyer and Kurtz, it is possible to discuss these tests as ‘performance tasks’, ‘behavioral tasks’, ‘free response measures’, and ‘constructive methods’, but “it is unlikely that any one of these labels would satisfy all experts” (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 224).
Furthermore, these suggested terms cannot be used as alternatives to discuss all the personality tests in this category because of obvious differences in the nature and character of these tests.
That is why, it is reasonable to refer to the specific name of the test while using the personality assessment which is based on assessing the person’s performance or behavior (Meyer & Kurtz, 2006, p. 225). These suggestions seem to be effective to resolve the problem of terminology related to personality test descriptors which are used to classify different types of assessments.
Discussion of the MBTI as a Personality Test
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was developed in the 1970s by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs in order to assess the personality in relation to its type with the focus on the person’s preferences. Myers and Briggs chose to focus on Jung’s theory related to such attitudes as perception and judgment.
Concentrating on this theory’s principles as the basis, the researchers proposed a specific model where the opposition between certain categories of preferences was accentuated (Bak, 2012, p. 288). The MBTI is the self-report inventory with the help of which the person is assessed according to several personality dimensions.
Thus, the assessment of the personality is realized with the focus on four groups of preferences which are known as Extroversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving (Zaratshani, Cano, Sharafi, Rajabi, & Sulaimani, 2011, p. 16).
Having answered the questions associated with preferences, a person can be described in relation to 16 possible personality types which are the result of combining different preferences from various groups.
Thus, the personality type is stated as a code like IIFP where the letters determine that the person is introvert, he or she is depending on intuition, feeling, and perceiving (Daisley, 2011, p. 17). As a result, the MBTI as a self-report can be discussed as providing the objective data which is useful to conclude about the individual’s personality type.
The tests indicators give the information on the most important personality traits and attributes. As a result, the focus on the person’s preferences can provide the counselor with the reliable information on the client’s personality type.
To assess the quality of the MBTI as a self-report inventory, it is necessary to focus on the use of this personality test in the context of the concrete case. The referral question or a reason for the personality assessment with the help of the MBTI may be associated with the necessity to find the causes of the person’s deep personal and professional dissatisfaction.
Thus, the client can suffer from apathy and negative moods associated with the occupied position, job duties, and job responsibilities. To focus on the roots of the problem, it is necessary to identify the personality type and concentrate on the specific traits which are characteristic for the client (Zaratshani et al., 2011, p. 16).
The necessity of the referral for the additional personality assessment can be stated by the counselor and the trainer who specialize in the spheres of the professional growth and career development.
While focusing on the demographic information related to the potential client who needs the help in a sphere of the professional growth, it is important to concentrate on the client’s age, gender, and ethnicity. Much attention should be paid to the counseling and medical history in order to conclude about the origin of apathy and other disorders (Cohen et al., 2012, p. 134-138).
If the 32-year-old Caucasian male feels strong dissatisfaction associated with the current job position which can also cause problems with sleeping and anxiety, it is important to focus on the background information such as the client’s educational and vocational history.
Referring to the client’s educational and vocational history, it is possible to find out that the man can have the Master’s degree in the sphere of business, and he can occupy the top management position in the actively developed company. However, the level of the experienced stress can be significantly high while comparing it with the expected stress level.
Focusing on the background data which is correlated with the client’s current level of functioning and presenting problem, it is appropriate to accentuate such aspects as the period during which the person can experience high levels of stress and anxiety associated with the work and possible causes of the client’s overall dissatisfaction.
The Use of the MBTI to Assess a Client
The MBTI is traditionally used to assess students and applicants to a job position in order to determine the area of preferences and conclude about the suitability of the educational path and potential career path for the concrete person.
To conclude about the causes of the client’s dissatisfaction associated with the current job position and experienced professional growth, it is necessary to use the MBTI as the reliable self-report inventory which is useful to determine the personality type according to the determined preferences (Daisley, 2011, p. 17-18).
The client should be provided with the MBTI list of questions which can include 126 pairs of items. While choosing between two rather opposite statements, the client demonstrates his preferences in relation to different situations and objects (Zaratshani et al., 2011, p. 17). Having administered a personality test, it is possible to note that the client is an IIFP.
Thus, the client is an introvert who focuses on intuition, feeling, and perceiving. These potential test results can indicate that the client prefers to keep the feelings to himself and to focus on dreaming and thinking rather than on communicating with other persons. As a result, such a leading position as a top manager can be discussed as challenging for the client because of the necessity to communicate a lot.
Furthermore, the client can experience difficulties with judging and making reasonable decisions. As a result, the level of stress increases significantly.
Such a person can be recommended to avoid leading positions which are based on the constant interaction with the other persons and on the active decision-making process (Bak, 2012, p. 293). In order to avoid changing the current position, it is possible to focus on the duties which involve the work with documents and computer systems.
The MBTI can be discussed as the effective test to focus on the problems associated with the persons’ study and career development. This personality test is useful because it is possible to assess the personality in relation to such attitudes as judgment and perception as well as four functions (Zaratshani et al., 2011, p. 17).
These dimensions are important to understand how the person can perceive the information, learn it, and how the person can draw inferences. While referring to the test’s reliability, it is important to note that the MBTI is reliable because it is used for assessing individuals’ traits and personality since the 1970s.
Furthermore, this self-report inventory is rather objective and valid because of focusing on identifying preferences which directly influence the person’s states and behaviors (Daisley, 2011, p. 18). As a result, while determining preferences, it is possible to find the cause of the person’s behavior and attitude.
In their article “Advancing Personality Assessment Terminology: Time to Retire “Objective” and “Projective” as Personality Test Descriptors”, Meyer and Kurtz suggest new terms to be used for the test classification related to different personality assessments instead of using such outdated terms as ‘objective’ and ‘projective’.
The overall suggestions include the necessity to refer to specific objective tests as self-report tests or inventories and to projective assessments as performance tests. This approach is useful to avoid a range of misunderstandings associated with using the ineffective personality test descriptors.
The MBTI is one of the personality tests which are traditionally discussed as objective. However, following Meyer and Kurtz’s suggestions, it is necessary to classify this test as a self-report inventory which is used to indicate the persons’ preferences and traits associated with their personality types.
Bak, S. (2012). Personality characteristics of South Korean students with visual impairments using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 106(5), 287-299.
Cohen, R. J., Swerdlik, M., & Sturman, E. (2012). Psychological testing and assessment: An introduction to tests and measurement. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Education.
Daisley, R. (2011). Considering personality type in adult learning: Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in instructor preparation at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Performance Improvement, 50(2), 15-24.
Meyer, G., & Kurtz, J. (2006). Advancing personality assessment terminology: Time to retire “objective” and “projective” as personality test descriptors. Journal of Personality Assessment, 87(3), 223-225.
Zaratshani, K., Cano, J., Sharafi, L., Rajabi, S., & Sulaimani, A. (2011). Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) in the teaching of entrepreneurial skills at an Iranian University. NACTA Journal, 55(4), 14-22.