Some of the methods to assess the personality of an individual are as follows:
1. Observational Methods:
These methods are designed to assess outward manifestations through observations.
The different observational techniques are:
a. Rating scales:
Rating scale is simply a device for recording the extent to which a person is perceived to have a defined attribute.
A rating scale may be self-rating or rating by other observers. Rating scale helps us to know the degree or magnitude of a particular trait of personality present in a given person. Usually the rating scales will be of three points, five points or seven points. For example, to study the sociability trait:
The statement may be, ‘I like to be in the company of the people than to be alone’ Ans: (a) always, (b) sometimes, (c) never, (3 point scale); (a) strongly agree, (b) agree, (c) indifferent, (d) disagree, (e) strongly disagree, (5 point scale). The subject has to read the question and indicate the degree of the trait in him by marking a tick mark on any one of the answers.
It is a very popular method of observation. Interview is a situation in which there is a face to face contact between the interviewer and the interviewee.
Personality is assessed by asking the questions orally. Generally interview is held as a part of assessment programme.
That is to supplement the data collected by other methods. Usually interviews are held to evaluate a person’s personality for identifying personality trait. The interviews are of two types: structured and unstructured.
In structured interview the questions to be asked are predetermined according to the need. The interviewer is not supposed to ask any question other than the prepared one. The number of questions to be asked is also predetermined.
In unstructured interview the interviewer is at full liberty to ask any question he likes and any number of questions on the issue for which the interview is held.
c. Behavioural tests:
Several types of behavioural tests are used to assess the personality. In these tests a particular challenging situation is created artificially, but resembles almost the original one.
The person will be made to face the situation. Example, the nurse may be asked to face an emergency situation like- taking care of a severe heart attack patient. Depending upon how effectively that situation is faced by the said person, his personality will be assessed.
However, these behavioural tests do not assess the personality structure of the individuals, but indicate certain traits possessed by the individual like leadership, initiative, energy level, etc., which are necessary to face critical situations.
2. Personality Inventories:
Psychologists have developed many questionnaires, tests, inventories to study personality. The inventories will contain a set of questions or statements meticulously prepared on the problem under study.
Each question will have two answers-either yes or no, and the subject has to mark the answer which best suits his nature. This method is easy to administer and to collect data from a large number of people at a time.
The necessary instructions and directions will be available on the face page itself. The subject has to read carefully before answering in order to avoid any confusion.
Some of the popular questionnaires/inventories are (a) Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory (MMPI), (b) Eysenck personality inventory (EPI), (c) Bell’s adjustment inventory (d) Mysore personality inventory, (e) RB Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors Test, etc.
3. Projective Techniques:
Projection is a compensatory mechanism in which the person reads own thoughts and feelings into others.
The projective tests/techniques are based on the principle that the subject reads or projects one’s own inner conflicts, frustrations, fears, motives and such other feelings into the unstructured situation. Naturally the responses the subject makes reveal the inner working of his mind. Thus, the projective techniques provide us an insight into the personality of the individual.
As the projective tests are unstructured either in form or in situation, their purpose is disguised. So the chances of giving false information are very less.
A good number of projective tests are available today. Some of the popular tests are:
a. Rorschach’s Ink blot test:
Developed by Swiss psychiatrist Herman Rorschach (1884-1922) in the year 1921. The test consists of ten symmetrical ink blots (example, see the Figure 5.2). All the cards will be presented one by one in a serial order and in the prescribed position.
The subject will be asked to answer the questions like- what could be the situation? What does he see in the card? All the responses will be recorded by the experimenter. Each response is scored in several ways like- location, determinants, content, popularity and organisation.
Set of symbols are used to score the responses. Interpretation of the results will be done on the basis of a number responses scored in a particular way, relative to the total number of responses. However, scoring and interpretation requires special training,
b. Thematic Apperception Test (TAT):
This test was developed by Henry Murray of Harvard University and psychologist Christina Morgan in 1938. It is a method of revealing the unconscious dominant drives, emotions, sentiments, complexes and conflicts of personality to the trained interpreter. The test contains 19 pictures of different situations of life (example, see the Figure 5.3 given in the box) and one blank card.
Though the figures in the pictures are clear and structured, the vagueness or ambiguity lies in the situation. The subject is asked to write a story on the basis of 4 questions. (1) What has led to the event shown in the picture? (2) What is happening at the moment? (3) What the characters in the picture are feeling and thinking? (4) What may be the outcome? The story written by the subject will be interpreted by the expert.
There are many other projective tests, viz., children apperception test, Verbal projection test, sentence completion test, drawing test, etc. Projective tests are often used in clinical practice. Because they are helpful to bring out the unconscious motives, conflicts, anxieties and other problems.