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Measurement of Personality- Methods and Techniques

Measurement of Personality- Methods and Techniques

The method used for assessing personality may be termed as subjective or objective or projective. The commonly employed assessment techniques for measuring personality may be classified as follows:

  • Individual’s behaviour in actual life situations can be observed, and this is called as observation techniques and situation
  • Autobiography, questionnaire, personality inventory and interview are some of the techniques where the individual is required to speak about himself.
  • Biographies, Case history, Rating scales and Sociometric techniques- where other people’s opinion about the individual whose personality is under assessment are ascertained.
  • Projective techniques involving fantasy which aim at assessing the individual reaction to imaginary situations.
  • Indirect techniques and with some personality variables may be determined in terms of physiological responses by the use of machines are technical devices.

The major tests for personality assessment are enlisted in above given points. Some of them are discussed in detail.


Observation is a popular method to study the behaviour pattern of an individual in an actual life situation. The observer decides what personality-trait or characteristics he needs to know and he then observe the relevant activities of the subject in real life situations.

The observation can be done in two ways:

  1. Direct- In this method observer becomes more or less a part of the group under observation and does not hide from the subject that observation of subject is under process.
  2. Indirect- In this technique the observer take a position where his presence is least disturbing to the subject but from where he can clearly observe every detail of the behaviour of the individual under observation. Tape-recorder, photographic cameras, etc. can also be used for this purpose. To ensure reliability of the observed results the observer may repeat the observations in the same situation several times, or the subject may be observed by a number of observers and the results may be pooled together.

Situational Tests

Here situations are artificially created in which an individual is expected to perform acts related to the personality traits under testing. For example, to test the honesty of an individual, some situation can be created and his reaction can be evaluated in terms of honesty or dishonesty.


Questionnaire generally consists of a set of questions made up by using a form which is filled by the respondent. This is the most popular method and is useful in collecting both quantitative as well as qualitative information. It is always filled in as second person.

For example- Do you laugh at a joke on yourself? (Yes, No, Cannot Say)

Personality Inventory

This resembles the questionnaire in many respects such as administration, scoring, interpretation etc., it is different in two ways. First, while the question hour is a General device and can be used for collecting all kinds of information and not connected specifically with personality traits or the behaviour of an individual, personality inventory is specifically designed to seek answers about the person and his personality. Second, set of questions worded in personality are worded in the first person.

For Example- I often feel lonely (Yes, No)

The best known personality inventory is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) developed by J.C. McKinley and S.R. Hathaway of the Minnesota Medical School. The items included in this inventory consists of 550 items.

Some other personality inventories are-The California personality inventory, the Eysenck personality inventory and the Sixteen personality factor inventory developed by Cattell.

Drawback of Questionnaire and Personality inventory are:
  1. It is difficult to get responses to all questions.
  2. The subject Mein give selective responses rather than genuine ones ( hide his weaknesses)
  3. He may he ignorant of his own traits or qualities he may possess.

Rating Scales

The personality traits are judged on a rating scale. It reflects the impression that subject has made upon the person who rates him. The divisions of the scale are indicated by numbers usually, 1 to 3, or 1 to 5 or 1 to 7, comprising a three point, five point or seven point scale.

Drawbacks of rating scale could be error of central tendency, subjective bias etc.


Interview consists of face to face interaction. Give an opportunity for mutual exchange of ideas and information between the subject and the interviewer.

Interview could be of two types:

  1. Structured-

    Here set of questions are systematic and predetermined. E.g.- Psychologists.

  2. Unstructured-

    This interview consists of an open interrogation. There is no restriction to follow a particular set of predetermined questions.

Projective Techniques

All the above techniques is used to evaluate the overt or conscious behaviour. The unconscious or covert behaviour or the person’s inner/ private behaviour or feeling is evaluated through projective techniques. It consists of following types of tests:

  • The Rorschach Inkblot Test
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
  • Children’s Apperception Test (CAT)
  • Word Association Test
  • Sentence Completion Test

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