Chapter 13

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22 Jul 2011

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Chapter 13: Applications in Clinical and Counselling Settings
Personality as the relatively stable and distinctive patterns of behaviour that characterize an
individual and his/her reactions to the environment
Structured personality tests attempt to evaluate personality traits, personality types, personality
states, and other aspects of personality, such as self-concept
Personality traits refer to relatively enduring dispositions tendencies to act, think, or feel in a
certain manner in any given circumstance and that distinguish one person from another
Personality types refer to general descriptions of people; personality states refer to emotional
reactions that vary from one situation to another
Self-concept refers to a persons self-definition or, according to Carl Rogers, an organized and
relatively consistent set of assumptions that a person has about himself or herself
At the broadest level, the strategies are deductive and empirical. One can in turn divide each of
these strategies as follows. Deductive strategies comprise the logical-content and the theoretical
approach. Empirical strategies comprise the criterion-group and the factor analysis method
Deductive Strategies
Deductive strategies use reason and deductive logic to determine the meaning of a test response
The logical-content method has test designers select items on the basis of simple face validity; in
theoretical approach, test construction is guided by a particular psychological theory
Logical-Content Strategy
It uses reason and deductive logic in the development of personality measures
In the most general use of this strategy, the test designer tried to logically deduce the type of
content that should measure the characteristic to be assessed
For example, if one wants to measure eating behaviour, it makes sense to include statements such
as I frequently eat between meals. States that have no direct logical relevance to eating
behaviours would not be included in test that used the logical-content strategy
The principal distinguishing characteristic of this strategy is that it assumes that the test item
describes the subjects personality and behaviour
Initial efforts to measure personality used the logical-content approach as the primary strategy
Theoretical Strategy
The theoretical strategy begins with a theory about the nature of the particular characteristic to be
In theoretical approach, items must be consistent with the theory. If the theory hypothesizes that
personality can be broken down into six major areas, then developers strive to create items that
tap each of these six areas
Theoretical strategies demand that every item in a scale be related to the characteristic being
The theoretical approach attempts to create a homogeneous scale and, toward this end, may use
statistical procedures such as item analysis
Empirical Strategies
Empirical strategy rely on data collection and statistical analyses to determine the meaning of a
test response or the nature of personality and psychopathology
Subjects are asked to respond to items that describe their own views, opinions, and feelings.
However, empirical strategies attempt to use experimental research to determine empirically the
meaning of a test response, the major dimensions of personality, or both
In the criterion-group approach, test designers choose items to distinguish a group of individuals
with certain characteristics, the criterion group, from a control group; factor analytic approach
uses the statistical technique of factor analysis to determine the meaning of test items
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Criterion-Group Strategy
The criterion-group strategy begins with a criterion group, or a collection of individuals who share
a characteristic
Test constructors select and administer a group of items to all the people in this criterion group as
well as to a control group that represents the general population
Constructors then attempt to locate items that distinguish the criterion and control groups, or how
the two groups contrast
The actual content or face validity of an item in the criterion-group strategy is of little importance.
Instead, the approach attempts to determine which items discriminate the criterion and control
Once distinguishing items have been determined for one sample of subjects to represent the
criterion group, the next step is to cross-validate the scale by checking how well it distinguishes an
independent criterion sample individuals also know to possess the characteristics to be measured
from a control group
If the scale significantly distinguishes the two groups, then it is said to have been cross-validated
Once a scale has been developed, data from the normal controls can be used to obtain standard
scores. One can then determine how far above or below the mean of the normal group each new
subject scores in standardized units. A subjects score on each scale can be converted to percentiles
After a scale has been constructed and cross-validated, a third step in the criterion approach is to
conduct additional research to ascertain empirically what it means when subjects endorse a large
number of items on a particular scale
Factor Analytic Strategy
The factor analytic strategy uses factor analysis to derive empirically the basic dimensions of
Factor analysts begin with an empirical database consisting of the intercorrelation of a large
number of items or tests. They then factor analyze these intercorrelations, typically to find the
minimum number of factors that account for as much of the variability in the data as possible
The then attempt to label these factors by ascertaining what the items related to a particular
factor have in common
Criteria Used in Selecting Tests for Discussion
All available structured personality tests can be classified according to whether they use one or
some combination of the four stategies just discussed: logical-content, theoretical, criterion-group,
and factor analytic
The tests in the discussion that follows have been chosen because (1) they illustrate each of the
major strategies; (2) they are widely used;(3) they interest the research community, and (4) they
show historical value
Woodworth Personal Data Sheet
The first personality inventory ever, the Woodworth Personal Data Sheet, was developed during
World War I and published in its final form after the war
Its purpose was to identify military recruits who would be likely to break down in combat
The final form of the Woodworth contained 116 questions which the individual responded Yes or
The items were selected from lists of known symptoms of emotional disorders and from the
questions asked by psychiatrists in their screening interviews
The Woodworth yielded a single score, providing a global measure of functioning
Although its items were selected through the logical-content approach, the Woodworth has two
additional features. First, items endorsed by 25% or more of a normal sample in the scored
direction were excluded from the test. This technique tended to reduce the number of false
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positives that is, subjects identified by the test as risks but who would most likely be cleared in
an actual interview
Second, only those symptoms that occurred twice as often in a previously diagnosed neurotic group
as in normals were included in the first version of the test
Assumed that test responses had items that could be taken at face value; that is, they assume the
face validity of a test response
Early Multidimensional Logical-Content Scales
Two of the best-known early tests developed with the logical-content strategy were the Bell
Adjustment Inventory and the Bernreuter Personality Inventory
The Bell attempted to evaluate the subjects adjustment in a variety of areas such as home life,
social life, and emotional functioning
The Bernreuter could be used for subjects as young as age 13 and included items related to six
personality traits such as introversion, confidence, and sociability
Each was first published in the 1930s, they produced more than one score
These multidimensional procedures laid a foundation for the many modern tests that yield
multiple scores rather than a single overall index
Mooney Problem Checklist
Few modern tests rely extensively on the logical-content method of test construction. One of the
few such tests still in use, the Mooney Problem Checklist, was published in 1950
The Mooney contains a list of problems that recurred in clinical case history data and in the
written statements of problems submitted by approximately 4000 high-school students
It resembles the Woodworth in that subjects who check an excessive number of items are
considered to have difficulties
The main interpretative procedure is to assume the face validity of a test response
Criticism of the Logical-Content Approach
These tests proved extremely useful as screening devices and methods of obtaining information
about a person without an extensive interview
In assuming that one can interpret test items at face value, the logical content strategy also
assumes that the subject takes a normal approach to the test, complies with the instructions, reads
each item, and answers as honestly as possible
Subjects might not be able to evaluate their own behaviour objectively in the area covered by the
test item. Even if they can provide accurate self-evaluation, they still may not interpret the test
item in the same way as the test constructor or test user
Structured personality tests based on the logic of face validity were so sharply criticized that the
entire structured approach to personality was all but discarded
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
The MMPI and MMPI-2 is a true-false self-report questionnaire
The heart of the test consists of its validity, clinical, and content scales.
The validity scales provide information about the persons approach to testing, such as whether an
attempt was made either to fake bad by endorsing more items of pathological content that any
persons actual problems could justify or to fake good by avoiding pathological items
The clinical scales were designed to identify psychological disorders such as depression and
The content scales consist of groups of items that are empirically related to a specific content area.
For example, the anger scale contains references to irritability, hotheadedness, and other
symptoms of anger or control problems
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