Clinical personality assessments can only be completed and interpreted by a licensed psychologist who is trained in testing and assessments. Personality testing is usually done as a part of a larger battery of psychological assessment. An individual or even several personality tests would not be administered in isolation without the supporting evidence from other testing and interviews. This week you will become familiar with some of the main personality testing instruments. Review
of these instruments will include their theoretical foundations, administration procedures, scoring methods, and interpretation guidelines.
One of the most widely used personality assessments is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2). This inventory consists of 567 true/false questions that assess a wide range of personality traits and psychological disorders. The MMPI-2 was developed based on the empirical criterion keying approach, which means that the items were selected based on their ability to differentiate between different diagnostic groups. The inventory includes various scales that assess personality dimensions such as Hypochondriasis, Depression, Hysteria, Psychopathic Deviate, Masculinity/Femininity, Paranoia, and Schizophrenia, among others. The administration of the MMPI-2 typically takes about 60 to 90 minutes to complete, and it requires basic reading skills. The scoring and interpretation of the inventory is done using computerized programs that compare the respondent’s answers to a normative sample. The MMPI-2 has high reliability and validity, and its use is supported by extensive research.
Another commonly used personality assessment is the Rorschach Inkblot Test. This test consists of 10 inkblot images that are presented to the individual, who is asked to describe what they see in each image. The responses are then analyzed based on various coding systems, such as the Exner Comprehensive System. The Rorschach test is based on the projective hypothesis, which suggests that the individual’s responses to ambiguous stimuli can reveal unconscious processes and underlying personality dynamics. The administration and scoring of the Rorschach test require extensive training and experience, as it involves the interpretation of complex and subjective data. The test has been criticized for its lack of standardization and reliability, but it continues to be used in clinical settings as a tool to gain insight into the individual’s personality.
The third personality assessment instrument to be reviewed is the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). This test consists of a series of picture cards, each depicting a scene or interpersonal situation. The individual is asked to make up a story about each card, including the characters, their thoughts and feelings, and the outcomes of the situations. The responses are then analyzed for underlying themes and motivations. The TAT is also based on the projective hypothesis, and it is used to assess personality traits such as needs, conflicts, and defense mechanisms. The administration and scoring of the TAT require training and experience, as the interpretation of the stories is subjective and based on the examiner’s judgment. The TAT has been criticized for its lack of standardization and reliability, similar to the Rorschach test. However, it is still commonly used in clinical settings as a tool to explore the individual’s subjective experiences and unconscious processes.
In addition to these three main personality assessments, there are many other instruments available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Examples include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the California Psychological Inventory (CPI), and the 16PF Questionnaire. The selection of the appropriate personality assessment instrument depends on the specific needs of the assessment and the theoretical orientation of the evaluator. It is important for the evaluator to be knowledgeable about the psychometric properties and interpretation guidelines of the chosen instrument, and to consider the limitations and potential biases associated with personality assessments.