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Psychometric tests as a measure of Personality: A Critical Assessment of Trait versus Situationalist Positions and the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R)

Willmott, Dominic and Mojtahedi, Dara and Ryan, Saskia and Sherretts, Nicole and Simpson, Olivia and Dlamini, Tim (2017) Psychometric tests as a measure of Personality: A Critical Assessment of Trait versus Situationalist Positions and the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R). EC Psychology and Psychiatry, 3 (1). pp. 13-18. (In Press)

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Abstract

Over time, the concept of personality has stimulated considerable theorising and debate amongst researchers. Thought to be characteristics within an individual that account for consistent patterns of thought, feelings and behaviours, the quest to understand individual differences between human beings has led to the increased uptake of psychological measurement tools, known as psychometric tests. Many variations of psychometric tests that have been devised to date attempt to operationalise the theoretical principles of Trait theory and the dimensions therein. Typically, these are applied within occupational, educational and clinical settings, where such personality measures are considered increasingly useful in the evaluation of individuals either being assessed, or due to begin working within an organisation. However, despite researchers implementing psychometric tests such as the NEO Personality Inventory [1] reporting high levels of construct validity for the measure [2], criticism surrounding the reliability of findings obtained from applications of the tool, resulting from the general lack of agreement around the trait dimensions that underpin psychometric testing, remain important. Another highly contested issue surrounding the basis of such tests are the stability and situationalist arguments, which criticise such methods as inaccurately representing a true picture of the individual due to failing to take the full environmental influences upon people into account. Such issues are undoubtedly more complex than such a summarisation can accredit, and upon paying systematic and critical consideration to the related assessments, a greater depth of analysis may be drawn.

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