Personality and the Trait Approach
Personality is a complicated mixture of emotional, behavioral, and attitudinal patterns exercised by an individual. Therefore, this concept is difficult to define through analyzing one dimension because it is a unique notion when it comes to the professional and psychometric analysis of a person. Nevertheless, psychologists support the idea that the concept of personality is closely associated with individuality, motivation, behavioral patterns, rather than with physical peculiarities, including age, gender, etc.
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Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies three main areas; individual differences, human nature, and major psychological processes. Many theories such as the psychoanalytic theory, behaviorist theory, and many others have been widely used by professionals to study personality (Bradberry, 2007)
The primary task of personality psychology is to work out consistent ways of defining and classifying personality differences, as well as outlining the structural aspects of individuality. In this respect, the analysis of personality traits is the core of personality description disclosing tendencies and disposition to behave, think, and feel in a specific way. It should be noted that these characteristics are structurally arranged. Specifically, the very about specific types of behavior – from the most general to the more peculiar forms of self-expression.
Over 70 years, personality psychologists have been working on evaluating and classifying the system of psychological traits. They have analyzed thousands of patterns and words that can be assigned to characterizing specific traits and soft out those terms to form broader personality categories. The process of classification, or distillation, involves evaluating correlations and associations among various personality traits that are explored using factor analysis. The latter is a procedure based on grouping the adjacent traits and gathering those into broader categories.
What is Psychometrics
This is a branch of psychology that deals with the design, administration, and interpretation of quantitative tests for the measurement of psychological variables such as intelligence, aptitude, and personality traits. It uses instruments such as questionnaires, tests and personality assessments. Two major procedures are involved in psychometrics; construction of instruments and procedures for assessment, and applying theoretical approaches to measurements (Michell, 1999). Most clinicians are known to be psychometricians, however, other professionals such as human resources and learning and development professionals also apply psychometrics in their jobs.
The Five-Factor Model
In psychology, the five-factor model uses five domains of personality to describe or explain human personality. It helps psychologists to understand the relationship between various academic behaviors and personalities (Digman, 1990). The five factors in the five-factor model include openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. The factor of conscientiousness is associated with the organization, goal-orientation, and discipline. Extraversion is revealed through a greater extent of communication and social interaction. Neuroticism is associated with the extent to which a person reveals emotional patterns, such as impulse and anxiety. Openness is characterized by the level of intellectual curiosity, as well as inclination for variety and uniqueness. Finally, agreeableness is displayed through an individual’s ability to be empathetic, sympathetic and cooperative (Digman, 1999).
What is Emotional Intelligence
When a person can identify, assess and control their emotions, that of others and groups, then they are said to have emotional intelligence. Different definitions of emotional intelligence have been proposed, each one of them giving a different meaning. The first definition was proposed by Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, (2001) who proposed that emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotion, in cooperate it to aid in our thoughts and understand and regulate our emotions to promote personal growth (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2001).
Aside from defining the main characteristics of emotional intelligence, it is imperative to study the main stage of emotional development. In this respect, Eysenck (1967) provides an analysis of the nature of emotional intelligence and particularly concerned with the relation between intellectual attainment and mental functioning. To measure the level of intelligent development this relation should be analyzed and synthesized. Individual differences, however, also depend on many other factors that are shaped by specific external factors. In this respect, this concept cannot be evaluated in isolation to other individuals. While assessing different characteristics and factors of communication skills and social interaction, it is impossible to provide an objective evaluation without placing an individual into a social medium.
Rehman (2011) attains much importance to emotional intelligence for making important decision-making. In this respect, a conceptual model should be constructed to define a set of underpinnings influencing the concept development. Decision making can reveal other dimensions of this notion and, therefore, much attention should be paid to decision-making styles and how they influence on shaping different skills and abilities of an individual. More importantly, it can also help identify the techniques for guiding and controlling emotions as well as the individual’s abilities to cope with different stressful situations.
Development of the Concept
From as early as the 1900s, psychologists focused on the importance of cognitive aspects such as memory and problem-solving. Several researchers, however, began to realize the importance of studying noncognitive factors. One such researcher was Edward Thorndike who in the early 1920’s used the term ‘social intelligence’ to describe the skill of comprehension and managing other people (Thorndike, 1920). In 1940, David Wechsler explained how non-intellective factors such as age, gender and attitudes influenced intelligent behavior.
He argued that models of intelligence would be incomplete if these factors were not fully investigated and applied. In 1983, Howard Gardner included the idea of multiple intelligences. His idea consisted of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. He described interpersonal intelligence as the ability to comprehend other people’s intentions, motivations, and desires. Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to appreciate oneself and be able to recognize one’s feelings, fears and drives (Gardner, 1983).
The term ’emotional intelligence’ was first used by Wayne Payne in his doctoral thesis from 1985 (Payne, 1983/1986). Other theorists work on designing emotional intelligence frameworks to define the differences between ability and trait characteristics of emotional intelligence. Further development of the definition can be presented in light of considering other psychological aspects of personality development. Specifically, emotional intelligence analysis is often congruent with conflict resolution, academic achievement, and emotional management. Also, the concept needs to be further disclosed about the five-factor model.
Research Evidence for the Five-Factor Model
A recent study investigated the relationship between personality and academic achievement based on the five-factor model. Cumulative sample sizes were approximately 70,000 in total. Most sample sizes came from the tertiary level of education but the secondary and primary level was also used. In the study, it was found that academic performance had a strong correlation with agreeableness. It was also found to strongly correlate with conscientiousness and openness.
There was also a test that was done to determine whether intelligence was the most significant contributor to academic excellence. The results showed that conscientiousness was a big contributor to academic excellence as was intelligence. The results were obtained from all three levels of education. However, the research also indicated that correlation moderators such as age also contributed to academic achievements and future research was needed to provide explanations for these moderator effects (Poropat, 2009).
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The five-factor model has been carefully examined by MacLaren et al. (2011) who have provided a fresh insight into defining the main aspects of emotional intelligence analysis. Specific emphasis has been placed on the evaluation of Neuroticism and Conscientiousness. Because five-factor analysis plays a significant role in defining job performance characteristics, the psychometric analysis should involve this approach to better define which educational approaches should be applied in the research (Barrick & Mount, 1991). For instance, it has been defined extraversion is typical of leading and managerial positions because this type of personality can effectively interact with people in various environments. Overall, the five-factor model can provide a solid platform for filling the gap between emotional intelligence and academic performance.
While analyzing cognitive aspects of personality development, particular attention should also be paid to correlations between different factors of the model because can be presented in different combinations, which should be carefully investigated as well.
Research Evidence for Emotional Intelligence
The most recent research done on emotional intelligence was used to show the relationship between emotional intelligence and academic achievement. The study was used to show if the transition from high school to university was significantly impacted by emotional intelligence. 1426 students in their freshman years from different colleges were selected to take part in the process. The students also had to be in their first week of campus to qualify to be a participant in the study.
To distinguish those that were academically successful and those that were not, a cumulative GPA at the end of the year was used. Those with a GPA of 3.0 were considered to be academically successful while those with a GPA of less than 2.0 were considered to be unsuccessful. Also, those that were academically successful were found to possess higher levels of several different emotional and social competencies as compared to those who weren’t academically successful. The findings, therefore, show that there is indeed a relationship between emotional intelligence and academic excellence (‘Academic Achievement and Emotional Intelligence’, 2005).
Along with the above-presented research, many other studies have recently dedicated to investigating the connection between emotional intelligence and academic performance. In this respect, Shahzada et al. (2011) have been committed to exploring the nature and character of the relationship between students’ academic performance and emotional intelligence. The results have revealed that there is a potent connection between these two variables.
Therefore, it has been recommended to analyze emotional intelligence as a significant factor influencing academic achievement. Also, MacCann et al. (2011) have presented their outlook on the connection between these two factors to define what mediation techniques should be used to improve academic achievement. At this point, measuring performance and academic styles about emotional intelligence have been examined. Two studies have been designed to highlight the imbalance. According to the results of the study, the mediation between these two factors has been proved. Judging from these assumptions, the given psychometric analysis can contribute greatly to defining personality traits.
Measures used in this Study
The emotional competency questionnaire analyses current emotional competencies through questions structured to investigate behaviors in different situations. The questions are structured in such a way that they relate to different aspects of emotional intelligence. Importantly, the question is compiled by ethical codes, which means that all questions will not sound offensive.
The IPIP is an on-going project that aims at establishing the validity of a generally useful personality inventory for administration. It was developed as a result of other psychologists copyrighting their materials thus making it difficult to access them and slowing down any form of research. The invention of the IPIP website made access to the personality test much easier and had no norm that had to be adhered to. The IPIP was designed by Golberg to measure the five domains of the five-factor model (Costa & McCrae, 1992).
The participants in this study were undergraduate students at a North London University between the ages of 18-65 of mixed cultures. Participation in the study was part of a course requirement for a second year BSc Psychology course in an Individual Differences module. An average of 20 students took part in both studies.
The materials used to carry out the test included an International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) Questionnaire, found in Appendix 1 and a Meredith-Sheppard Emotional Competencies (MSECQ) Questionnaire found in Appendix 2. The IPIP questionnaire is a hundred item questionnaire containing phrases that describe people’s behaviors based on the Big-Five Factor theory. A 5 point Likert Scale ranging from ‘very inaccurate’ to ‘very accurate’ was used to note the degree in which the phrase described them. These, in turn, measured a score for each of the Big-Five’s factors of personality which include; extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. The MSEC questionnaire is a 70 item questionnaire based on emotional competencies which uses a 5 point Likert scale ranging from ‘hardly ever’ to ‘almost always’. These, in turn, measure a score for emotional intelligence which are made up of 5 factors including; self-insight, expressivity, sensitivity, drive, and foundations.
To do a repeat of this study, the IPIP and MSEC questionnaires are available on the internet and can be easily accessed. Readers can take the tests on their own and receive the results online. The IPIP items can be accessed at the IPIP website. The MSEC questionnaire is also available online. However, the tests must be taken under the supervision of a professional psychometrician.
The IPIP test was administered using standardized instructions (Appendix 3). The participant was instructed to use the rating scale to describe the extent to which the statement describes them as honestly as possible. They had to answer the questions according to how they viewed themselves in the present as opposed to how they wished to be in the future. They were assured that their answers were completely confidential. The participant was told to mark the relevant box which they believed best suited their personality. The response options varied in a scale of 5 options from ‘very inaccurate’ to ‘very accurate’.
At the end of the questionnaire, they were asked to circle the relevant options, that is, whether they were male or female and choose which age bracket they belonged. The participant was instructed to work in silence and to raise their hand if they had any queries. They were lastly instructed that there was no time limit for filling out the questionnaire but advised not to think too much into each question and go with the first answer that came to mind.
The MSECQ test was also administered using standardized instructions (Appendix 4). The procedure for both tests was very similar. The participant was informed that by answering the questionnaire, they were helping the development of a new emotional competency scale. The participant was asked to circle the relevant answer to whether they were male or female and which age bracket they belonged.
They were then instructed to put a tick a cross in the relevant box which they believed best suited their personality. The response options varied in a scale of 5 options from ‘hardly ever’ to ‘almost always’. Similar to the previous questionnaire, they were to work in silence, raise their hand if they should need any help and there was no time limit to the questionnaire. After they had been given all the instructions, they were instructed to sign the consent form before starting if they were happy for their responses to be used.
The only difference in the procedure of the two questionnaires is that consent is to be given in the MSECQ questionnaire if the participant wants their responses to be used whereas this is not needed in the IPIP questionnaire. The participants self-scored the tests and calculated the standardized scores.
The scores were normalized by using various methods such as standard deviation, finding the mean and the range of scores. This helps in normalizing errors when the population parameters are unknown.
Descriptive Statistics and Tables
The table below represents the scores obtained from the psychometric tests, IPIP and MSECQ, administered to a student of different cultural backgrounds and races.
|Raw score||Sample Statistics |
(n= 349 )
|Z score||T score|
|Openness to Experience||57||72.55||10.31||-1.51||34.92|
TABLE 1: IPIP Raw and Standardised scores of.
|MSECQ DOMAINS||Raw score||Sample Statistics |
(n= 359 )
|Z score||T score|
|TOTAL Emotional Competency||69.2||71.22||6.57||-0.32||46.8|
TABLE 2: MSECQ Raw and Standardised scores of.
In the MSECQ, based on the T scores, the client scored between 45 to 55 on self-insight and expressivity. This means that the participant was within the average range of undergraduate students. This is considered to be okay as most undergraduates fall under this category. However, under the drive and foundations, the participant scored below average while in sensitivity the participant scored above average. This ultimately contributed to their low score in total emotional competency.
On the IPIP based on the T score, the participant scored below average on extraversion and openness to experience while the score was above average on neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. The average test score on both tests was 50.
The participant scored an average of 33.40 on extraversion. This is a score that is below average as the average score here was considered to be 50. This means that the client as compared to other students had a below-average sense of extraversion. This means that the participant is likely to be reserved and formal and seldom seek out company. The drive for adventure and an exuberant attitude seem to be un-appealing and thus the participant prefers to stay in the background and do things at a more leisurely pace. This would be contradictory was the score to be above average. This is because if the client had scored above average, then this would mean that they were more extroverts than other students.
The participant scored an average of 53.7 on agreeableness. This is a score that is above average for the participant. This means that the participant tends to see others as being honest and having good intentions. This makes the participant more trusting and willing to help others. When faced with a conflict, they would rather defer it to a higher authority than deal with it directly. The participant is also easily moved and tends to be at times self-effacing.
The participant scored an average of 55.35 on conscientiousness. This means that the client’s score is above average. A person with a high conscientiousness is considered to be capable and effective. They are always well organized and kempt and have a higher drive to achieving success. They complete any given tasks and prefer to think first before acting.
The participant scored an average of 59.33 on neuroticism. This means that the participant scored above average. The client is therefore affected by their immediate surroundings. They become easily worried about minor things, have a short temper and are easily discouraged from pursuing their goals. Also, they have a hard time coping with stress and easily succumb to temptations.
The participant scored an average of 34.92 on the openness to experience. This is a score that is below average. This means that the client’s personality is artistic. They are imaginative and appreciate art. They enjoy trying out new things and have a certain sense of intellectual curiosity. They are more open to criticism when it comes to their values and has no problem re-evaluating them. Also, they place a high value on emotions.
After this analysis, the participant was asked to give their opinion on whether they thought this was a valid interpretation of their test scores on personality.
Emotional Intelligence Domains
The client scored an average of 48.2 on self-insight. This means that the client’s score was less than average. In this respect, the client is highly influenced by other people’s opinions about him/her and, as result, the client can be negatively influenced in case the surrounding individuals do not fit his/her outlook on the social standards of living. The client is more likely to become self-aware through environmental cues such as an audience.
The client scored an average of 41.2 in the drive which is also slightly below average. This means the client is less inclined to direct their energy towards achieving their personal goals. They also have a lower level of organizational skills and portray a sense of poor planning and lack of initiatives.
The client scored an average of 49.2 in expressivity which is also below average. This means that the client is slightly inclined to express themselves in a less confrontational manner when faced with a conflict. They tend to act on impulse and are more inclined to throw tantrums, unlike people whose score is more than average.
The client scored an average of 55.7 on sensitivity. This means that the client is above average and is thus more likely to process data more deeply than is expected. This may have initially been confused for shyness or social anxiety.
The client scored an average of 43.8 in foundations. This means that the client was slightly inclined to make unstable relationships. This is due to an introversive personality whereby the client tends to keep to themselves and prefers to stay away from too much attention.
The client scored below average in the emotional competence score. This is as a result of the below-average scores that were reflected in the emotional competency test. The client is therefore prone to succumb to stress and pressure from external pressures and environmental cues, unlike clients who scored averagely in the emotional competency test.
Critical Evaluation of the Process
The emotional competence instrument is a valid instrument for measuring emotional competence. The outcomes of the results show that they are related to the individual’s success, whether it is the information of relationships or academic excellence. The whole evaluation took approximately 30 to 40 minutes to complete. However, most people usually complete the evaluation in approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
The two tests were however in sync in that the IPIP showed that the client is more of an introvert which went hand in hand with the results of the emotional competence test. Judging from the results, it is possible to conclude that a client should select a specific style of learning that would meet his emotional and behavioral needs. At this point, because introverts are more inclined to work separately from other peers, they should choose distant learning to receive the highest academic results.
The whole evaluation process enabled the participant to come to terms with their personality and emotional competence. This helped to give them insight into areas that they are weak in and also their strengths. The IPIP and MSECQ are important especially when trying to hire prospective employees. For instance, the emotional competency test enables an employer to know which employees are likely to work efficiently under pressure and which ones are more likely to succumb to pressure.
The tests can also be applied when assessing problematic teenagers and children. This helps to point out the weakest areas and their strong points and can thus be better enabled to integrate into society without much difficulty. The given study can also apply to solve conflicts, particularly when students are concerned. The presented age category should be carefully considered because it can influence further personality development or lead to deeper psychological problems while communicating with peers. Therefore, consideration of specific skills necessary for adjusting to a social environment is crucial.
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