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Chapter 4


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Connie Boudens

CHAPTER FOUR – Personality Assessment Personality Assessment: measurement of the individual characteristics of a person What Makes a Good Personality Test? The developers of a personality test must demonstrate that the test is valid and reliable, and specify the conditions, populations, and cultures the test applies to. They must also provide theoretical background and evidence confirming (or disconfirming) that the test is related to certain outcomes. When possible, should make sure that the results are meaningful and not just due to biased responding on the part of test-takers. Test Reliability Reliability: an estimate of how consistent a test is, describing the extent to which test scores are consistent and reproducible with repeated measurements. Consistent results should be across time, items, and raters. Temporal consistency reliability: when an assessment gives consistent results across time, often tested by test-retest reliability  Test-retest reliability: when a test gives a consistent result from one point in time to a later point in time. o Need to be careful that the participants aren’t just remembering previous test so have to make sure that it is separated enough by time so that memorization cannot occur but traits will not change. o This is only really applicable to tests where the results should be consistent – this would most likely work on something like IQ but not on day-to-day emotional levels. Internal consistency reliability: when an assessment gives consistent results across items, demonstrated by:  Parallel-forms reliability: two versions of the test that are comparable and can be checked to see if the scores on both versions are similar  Split-half reliability: splitting a test in half and seeing if test-takers’ scores on one half correlated with the scores on the other half.  Cronbach’s alpha ( ): Taking the correlation between the scores of two halves of a test then calculating the average correlation of all possible halves of the test. This estimates the generalizability of the score from one set of items to another. o Researchers try to make sure that their measures have an alpha of 0.70 to 0.80. o This should be even higher when designing tests to compare or judge individuals (IQ tests). At least 0.90 or ideally 0.95 Interrater reliability: two separate judges rate the personality or behaviour of the person. They should come to the same conclusion. Test Validity Validity: the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure. Construct validity: every test aims to measure an underlying concept called a construct, derived from theory. This means that every test needs construct validity, successfully measuring the theoretical concept that it was supposed to measure. Face validity: test appears to measure the construct of interest. (A test high in face validity that measured depression would ask questions about sadness, depressive episodes etc.) This really isn’t the best kind of validity. It is useful under two kinds of conditions:  Important for personnel testing or other situations where the cooperation and motivation of the test-taker can affect the results of the test. Participants then view the content of a test as fair and relevant.  When researchers are developing a new measure of a concept. Criterion validity: determines how good a test is, by comparing the results of the test to an external standard like another personality test or some behavioural outcome.  Example: a test of introversion vs. extroversion should be able to distinguish between the two Convergent validity: if the test is similar to other tests of the same construct or to tests of related constructs. Discriminant validity: make sure that the test tests a different aspect of personality, when compared to other tests.  With convergent and discriminant, what you are doing is making sure that the test converges with similar constructs and discriminates between dissimilar constructs. A test that gives back only general and superficial results that are ambiguous enough to apply to anyone lacks predictive validity.  Barnum effect: people believe that a test is accurate because the test really does have a little bit of everything for everyone. Test Generalizability Generalizability: establishes the boundaries or limitations of a test.  Cannot use a test for a use other than what it was intended, nor administer it to a group of people it was not validated on. Is the NEO-PI-R a Good Test?  Cronbach’s alphas ranged from 0.56 to 0.81, which is adequate for a test with only eight items  Test-retest reliability correlations were quite high  Each facet tested with the appropriate factor  Correlated with the Eysenck personality test  Can be used in many populations. Can be used in clinical settings, drug rehab programs, and individual psychotherapy.  Has been translated into other languages and appears to be valid in other countries Types and Formats of Personality Tests Two kinds of tests:  Self-report (objective): respondents answer questions about themselves  Performance-based (projective): use an unstructured format in which participants must respond to a stimulus in as much detail as they would like. Self-Report
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