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Personality Assessments

Carlos F. Martinez MHA, M.Ed.

Personality Assessment
What is personality?

Personality is:

Personality includes all the special qualities

people have that make them different from
each other. These include: charm, energy,
disposition, attitude, temperament, cleverness,
and all feelings and behaviors they exhibit.

Personality is:

Personality is the reasonably stable

patterns of thoughts, emotions, and
behavior that distinguish one person
from another.


does personality
assessment achieve?

Personality Assessment

Personality Assessment assists counselors in:

Understanding the behavior of a particular
Helps counselor come to a conclusion about a
possible future course of action
Helps counselor make predictions about a
persons unique future behavior.

Traits, States, and Types

There are three fundamental terms related to



Personality Traits can be viewed as the

distinguishing characteristics or qualities
possessed by the individual.
Traits are dimensions of individual
differences in tendencies to show consistent
patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions.


Personality States refer to a temporary

behavioral tendency.
Eg. A student may be described as being in an
anxious state before finals.
Whereas trait refers to an enduring
personality characteristic, state usually refers
to a temporary behavioral tendency.

Personality Types

Personality Types are regarded as a general

description of a person.
Eg. Extroverted/Introverted.

Personality Inventories

Inventories are commonly used to identify the

structure and features of ones personality, or
ones characteristic way of thinking, feelings
and behaving.


A career counselor administers an inventory

in order to help a person choose a career.
A psychologist wants to look at symptoms to
possibly diagnose a disorder
A school counselor implements inventors to
see if a student is suffering from academic

Examples (continued)

An employment counselor uses inventories to

see if an individual meets the right
requirements and performance.
A neurophysiologist administers an inventory
to determine the extent of a possible brain

Approaches to Personality Inventory


Personality inventories may differ in the

approach by which they are constructed. Four
common approaches to personality inventory
development are Rational, Theory-Based,
Criterion Group, and Factor Analysis.

Rational Approach

Rational Approach is one of the oldest methods of

personality test construction.
Here, we use the use of reason and deductive logic to
construct test items.
Eg. Woodsworth Personal Data Sheet, from 1920,
which contained a 116-item self report in response to
needs for psychiatric screening during the U.S. entry
into WWI.

Theory-Based Approach

This approach is founded on an established theory of

personality, unlike Rational Approach. The
psychodynamic theory of personality is followed and
the unconscious/inner conflicts play a significant
Clients are believed to eventually project or express
unconcious fears, conflicts, or inner needs.

Criterion Group Approach

C.G.A. is an empirical method of personality

test construction that involves selecting items
that can discriminate between relevant
criterion groups and control groups. Control
Groups are usually studied alongside
Criterion Groups to identify items that
distinguish the groups from one another.

Factor Analysis

Another empirical approach that uses

statistical procedures to analyze
interrelationships among a large number of
Eg. Personality Traits.

Categories of Personality Inventories

Structured Personality Inventories: standardized,
usually self-report instruments. Use selected
response items (true/false, multiple choice) or
rating scales.

No right or wrong answer (i.e., true may indicate a trait

Broad scope inventories are very comprehensive (1 to 2
hrs); for example, the MMPI-2.
Narrow scope inventories focus on targeted aspects of
personality (i.e. BDI-II).

Structured Inventory
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

567 true/false questions

18 years and older
Takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete
Has 10 clinical scales that assess dimensions of
personality and psychopathology , pg 254
Has 9 validity scales to detect response styles
(i.e. unanswered questions), pg 253.
Available in English, Hmong, French and

MMPI-2 (Example questions)


1.I like mechanics magazines

2.I have a good appetite
3.I wake up fresh & rested most
4.I think I would like the work of a
5.I am easily awakened by noise
6.I like to read newspaper articles on
7.My hands and feet are usually warm
8.My daily life is full of things that
keep me interested
9.I am about as able to work as I ever
10.There seems to be a lump in my
throat much of the time

11.A person should try to understand his

dreams and be guided by or take warning
from them
12.I enjoy detective or mystery stories
13.I work under a great deal of tension
14.I have diarrhea once a month or more
15.Once in a while I think of things too
bad to talk about
16.I am sure I get a raw deal from life
17.My father was a good man
18.I am very seldom troubled by
19.When I take a new, I like to be tipped
off on whom should be gotten next to
20.My sex life is satisfactory

Structured Inventory
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-III):

175-item self-report
18 years and older
Approx. 30 minutes to complete
Designed to assist with clinical and
personality disorders (Axis II on
Consists of 28 scales (pg. 256)

Sample of the MCMI-III

Name: Sample Interpretive Report

ID Number: 98765
Age: 22
Gender: Female
Setting: Outpatient Never Hospitalized
Race: White
Marital Status: Never Married
Date Assessed: 04/03/2009

Sample of the MCMI-III

Possible Diagnoses:
She appears to fit the following Axis II classifications
best: Antisocial Personality Disorder, with Histrionic
Personality Features, and Paranoid Personality
Axis I clinical syndromes are suggested by the client's
MCMI-III profile in the areas of Alcohol Abuse and
Psycho-active Substance Abuse NOS.

Structured Inventory
The California Psychological Inventory (CPI):
434 true/false statements.
Ages 12 to 70.
Takes about 50 to 60 minutes.
Designed for normal people.
Focus on behavior patterns, feelings and
opinions, and attitudes relating to social,
ethical, and family matters.

Structured Inventory
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Another non-pathological inventory.

Designed based on Carl Jungs typological theory.

Extraversion - Introversion


Thinking Feeling


Theyre often referred to by an abbreviation of 4 letters,

indicating the 4 type preferences
ESTJ: Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.
INFP: Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving.

Projective Instruments

Require the client to answer questions using

pictures, phrases, or inkblots.
Associated with the psychodynamic theory of
personality the unconscious mind (i.e., hidden
emotions, internal conflicts).
Two well-known instruments are the Rorschach
and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).

Projective Instruments
The Rorschach Inkblot Test
Measures clients view of his/her world.
Clients are asked to look at inkblots and
to describe what they see.
The test has 10 bilaterally symmetrical
inkblots printed on separate cards.
Requires examiners to be thoroughly

Rorschach Inkblot Card

Rorschach Inkblot Card

Common Responses:
Bat (53%),
Butterfly (39%)

Rorschach Inkblot Card

Rorschach Inkblot Card

Common Responses:


Rorschach Inkblot Card

Rorschach Inkblot Card

Common Responses:

Animal skin
Skin Rug

Rorschach Inkblot Card

Rorschach Inkblot Card

Common Responses:
Heads of women or
Human head

Projective Tests
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

Contains 31 black and white pictures

The usual number of cards shown to the client is
between 10 and 14
Administration of the TAT usually takes an hour
Client is asked to make a story about each
Examiner asks client several questions in order
to better understand his/her story

Image similar to the ones used in TAT

Image similar to those used in TAT

Image similar to those used in TAT

Projective Instruments
Verbal Projective Techniques
Require verbal and/or written responses;
therefore, clients must have good verbal
and written skills.
Examples of questions:
If you had three wishes, what would you
wish for?
If you could be anything you wanted to
be, what would you be?

Projective Instruments
Sentence Completion

Examples of sentence completion

I wish _________.
I love _________.
A husband should ______.
My nerves are made of _________.
I hate _________.

Projective Instruments
Projective Drawings

Perhaps the oldest category of projective

assessments used with children and
A very common technique is the Draw-aPerson test (pg. 267).
Another technique is the House-Tree-Person
Technique (pg. 267).

Projective Instruments

Subject to the examiners opinion and

They have failed to provide research
support for their reliability and validity.



The MMPI-2 is:

a. an IQ test
b. a neurological test
c. a projective personality test
d. a standardized personality test
In a projective test the client is shown
a. something which is highly reinforcing
b. something which is highly charged from an emotional
c. a and b
d. neutral stimuli

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator reflects the work of
a. Raymond B. Cattell
b. Carl Jung
c. William Glasser
d. Oscar K. Buros
4. The counselor who favors projective measures would most likely
be a

a. Rogerian
b. Strict behaviorist
c. TA therapist
d. Psychodynamic clinician

5. One of the oldest methods of personality test construction is
a. Rational approach
b. Theory-based approach
c. Criterion Group approach
d. Factor analysis
6. Personality Assessment assists counselors in:
a. Understanding the behavior of a particular individual
b. Coming to a conclusion about a possible future course of
c. Making predictions about a persons unique future behavior.
d. All of the above

Outside Sources

Butcher, J.N., Hstetler, K. (1990). Abbreviating MMPI Item

Administration. What Can Be Learned From the MMPI for the
MMPI-2? Psychological Assessment: A Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology, March 1990 Vol. 2. No. 1.12-21
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III Interpretive Report with
Grossman Facet Scales. Theodore Millon, PhD, DSc (
Narron, M. C. (2005). Updating the TAT: A Photographic
Revision of the Thematic Apperception Test, Dissertations
Abstract International, DAI-B 66/01, p. 568, Jul 2005.