Personality assessment is a core activity in the field of psychology and to perform this task, a variety of instruments are available. Cervone and Pervine (2010) elaborate that personality psychology attempts to describe the whole person by considering universal traits as well as individual differences.
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Personality assessment helps a person to better understand themselves and the people around them. This paper will set out to analyze three personality assessment instruments: Myers-Briggs, Rorschach and Self-help books. From this analysis, the validity and relevance of each instrument will be highlighted.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality measure developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs as an extrapolation of the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types The MBTI is made up of four types: Extraversion-Introversion (EI), Sensing- Intuition (SN), Thinking-Feeling (TF), and Judging-Perception (JP) (Saggino, Cooper, & Kline, 2000).
EI is a measure of the tendency by the individual to focus their energy either towards self (inward) or others (outward). SN is a measure of how the person prefers to gather information. TF measures the decision making preference of a person. JP is a measure of how a person approaches life. The four preference types identified combine into a psychological type and 16 distinct personality types result from this.
Strengths and weaknesses
A major advantage of the Myers Briggs framework is that is helps an individual to understand their own personalities and behavior.
In addition to this, the framework helps people recognize that others may be different which encourages mutual respect and a deeper appreciation for the contributions of others (Saggino et al., 2000). The scales and scoring metrics of the MBTI are well explained and an individual can easily use this tool for personality assessment.
A major disadvantage of the Myers-Briggs instrument is that it is not effective in identifying subtle personality types. Cervone and Pervin (2010) note that this tool does not measure personality variation along a continuum but rather, it sets out to gauge a persons status on the extreme ends of the personality categories.
The validity and reliability of MBTI has been supported by many researchers since the instrument uses scientific methods. As such, independent testers can come to the same conclusion concerning a subject’s personality by use of this tool.
Even so, the validity of MBTI scale contents has been questioned by a number of researchers. For example, Miao et al. (2001) demonstrated that there is a convergent and discriminate validity of the EI, TF and JP scale.
The MBTI proposes to offer insights into a person’s personality type. It does this by sorting an individual into opposite categories based on his/her predisposed preferences for attitudes and mental functions.
The MBTI is one of the most popular personality instruments used for assessment. It is used for recruitment purposes since it highlights a person’s characteristics. It is also used by counselors to help a client better understand themselves. The cultural utility of the MBTI is very wide and it is uses vary from personal to professional.
The Rorschach test was developed by the Swiss psychologist, Hermann Rorschach as a projective test through which a person’s inner feelings could be uncovered. The instrument was designed to elicit unconscious stimuli through the use of cards with inkblots on them (Musewicz, 2009).
The test involves the subject being shown inkblots and their unique perceptions of these inkblots are used to form an opinion on their personality characteristics or emotional functioning.
The Rorschach test is made up of 10 cards which have ink blots on them. The subject is supposed to look at the cards and say what they see. The cards do not represent any recognizable figure and the person taking the test is supposed to say what the image looks like to them.
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Strengths and weaknesses
The Rorschach test is mostly used to detect underlying thought disorders that an individual would not reveal in a self reporting test. A major strength of this tool lies in its ability to see beyond the things that a person is willing or able to reveal (Musewicz, 2009). In doing this, it overcomes the weaknesses inherent in self-reporting tests where a person can give the answer they think is most desirable.
A major weakness is the lack of scientific evidence for the Rorschach test. This fact has led to its diminishing use in the last decade. This is because it is susceptible to the bias of the tester and the results can accuracy of the results is therefore questionable.
Another major demerit of the Rorschach is that it is mostly affiliated with clinical psychology and hence not popular outside of the clinical setting. Del Guidice (2010) notes that the instrument is used to assign a clinical diagnosis which curtails its use in the mainstream setting.
Inter-rater reliability which is defined as the “ability of a test to measure a trait that is supposed to be stable over time” is significantly low with the Rorschach test. This is because the test is open to varied interpretations by the tester and the subjectivity may be inconsistent (Musewicz, 2009).
For most professionals, interpretations are made in an intuitive manner and this can result in over diagnosis of psychological disturbances in a subject and therefore reduce the effectiveness of this instrument.
In terms of comprehensiveness, the Rorschact test is limited since it only seeks to identify underlying issues with particular bias on disorders. The inferences and interpretations made from the Rorschach are subject to the biases of the person administering the test further reducing its comprehensiveness.
The Rorschach test is mostly used by psychology professions to identify underlying issues with a client. The instrument can also be used by counselors to help a client identify issues which are underlying.
The Rorschach can also be used by organizations to assist in employee selection. Giudice (2010) states that Rorschach scales that assess psychological adjustment, coping ability, and relational deficits can help in making prudent hiring decisions.
Self Help Books
Self help books are a category of books that are written for the chief purpose of helping the ready to gain insights into themselves and therefore effectively deal with personal issues. Self help books are written in a personal style and the reader is personally involved and positively affected by the experience (Cervone & Pervin, 2010).
The creation of self help books is not credited to any one individual but it is generally agreed that the self-help phenomena took place in the last half century. There is no definite scale or manner for scoring using self help books since most of them make use of the popular personality assessment tools available.
Self Help books have limited reliability and validity since they are meant to be used by laypersons. The validity of the results obtained is dependent on the cognitive abilities of the individual and this may vary greatly.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Self help books contain interpretive guidelines for personality assessment instruments that can be used by the individual to assess their personality type. These books may have precise instructions on how to administer the tests being discussed and therefore enable the individual to benefit from them. Self help books are arguably the most widely used personality assessment instrument.
This is because self-help books offer an informal way to self assess therefore giving the ready the means to discover their natural personality preferences. In addition to this, they cover a myriad of issues which are of interest to the general population.
A major disadvantage of self help books is that the individual may not always be in a position to make accurate interpretation of personality assessment data obtained from self-help books (Cervone, & Pervin, 2010).
Interpretations require the drawing of inferences about a person’s emotional state or dispositions of personality functioning. In addition to this, most self help books are too general to be of any real assistance in personality assessment.
Self help books address a myriad of personality issues. By use of various personality tests, most of the aspects of personality may be covered in a single book. Some self help books make use of research findings and incorporate more information that is specific to personalities therefore increasing their value to the user.
Self help books are mostly applicable for personal use and specifically for personal growth and development. However, the books are also recommended by counseling professionals to help the individual to develop their life.
This paper set out to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of three personality assessment instruments. From this undertaking, it has been revealed that Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most applicable personality assessment instrument while the Rorschach is the least applicable.
This is because most researchers favor personality assessments that are scientific in nature as opposed to projective assessment. Self help books on the other hand are often too general and may therefore not be the best option.
Cervone, D., & Pervin, L.A. (2010). Personality: Theory and Research (11th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
Del Guidice, M.J. (2010). Reply to Comment on “What Might This Be? Rediscovering the Rorschach as a Tool for Personnel Selection in Organizations”. Journal of Personality Assessment, 92(1), 78-89.
Miao, D. M., Huangfu, E., Chia, R. C., & Ren, J. J. (2000). The validity analysis of the Chinese version MBTI. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 32(3), 324-331.
Musewicz, J. (2009). Current Assessment Practice, Personality Measurement, and Rorschach Usage by Psychologists. Journal of Personality Assessment, 91(5), 453–461,
Saggino, A., Cooper C., & Kline, P. (2000). A confirmatory factor analysis of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Personality and Individual Differences, 30(1), 3-9.