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The Personality Puzzle 8th Edition

The Personality Puzzle (8th Edition)

Book Edition8th Edition
PublisherW. W. Norton

Chapter 18, End of Chapter, Think About It, Exercise 1

Page 670


The field of personality assessment involves both objective and subjective tests to assess an individual's patterns of behavior and whether they may be at the risk of developing personality disorders or mental distress. The following are the ways through which the scientific nature of personality theories and assessment procedures can be depicted:

  • Psychoanalytical theories can aid in encouraging clinicians to take into consideration unsurfaced or unfocused thoughts and impulses of the individuals to treat those people with disorders. By focusing on early events, the counselor may aim to provide better treatment. Projective tests like the Rorschach Ink-blot test can be used to evaluate or assess an individual's internal emotions and struggles, which are decoded by the psychologist. The client is asked to respond to ambiguous stimuli such as visual patterns on a collection of cards, which are evaluated based on the colors, patterns, and shapes that the client views.
  • Humanistic psychologists can encourage clinicians to approach the problems of the clients through a present-focused view. Researchers can assess the present psychological functioning of individuals through objective tests, which provide a better view of personality. The MMPI or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory can be used to assess individuals' personalities and the potential risk factors of developing mental health issues.
  • Trait theories can motivate counselors or clinicians to understand the relations or connections among thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. For instance, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI] can help in various work settings where before providing job opportunities, employees can be screened or assessed for their specific traits and individual attributes as an indicator of their better adjustment to the work settings or their vulnerability to experiencing burnout. This objective test of personality is aimed at aiding individuals to understand the type of occupation or job best suited to their personality type.

The evidence for the first argument is as follows:

  • It can be crucial for clinicians to provide treatment to individuals who suffer from severe personality disorders as they may not be able to carry on with their daily functioning and activities. Personality disorders can be disruptive to the extent of individuals developing odd behaviors and eccentric thinking styles such as schizotypal personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and schizoid personality disorder. To treat such disorders, experts can use personality tests when formulating and providing an appropriate diagnosis. As personality tests are standardized and scientific, clinicians can rely on them to provide a reliable diagnosis to patients.
  • Apart from the diagnosis of mental disorders, personality tests are also crucial to assess individual personality with the purpose of understanding suitable career options and opportunities, which can have varying compatibilities in terms of individual unique traits and attributes. The objective tests of personality such as MBTI can help evaluate individual attributes based on multiple traits [extraversion-introversion, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving]. Such applications of personality tests are possible only because of the scientific nature of personality tests and personality as a field of study in psychology.

The evidence for the second argument is as follows:

  • Individual behavior can change from one situation to another, which implies that the consistency of individual personality across situations may be questionable. Psychologists may fail to consider this crucial aspect as emotions and behaviors change over time, but people tend to maintain such differences. This indicates that even though personality psychologists may be evaluating the personality of an individual in a distinct situation, in that situation, the individual may behave in a particular manner. However, when individuals are assessed on the same test in a different scenario, they may exhibit a different aspect of their personality. As a result, even though tests can be scientific, their results or provided assessments of personality may not be stable and valid.
  • Another limitation of considering personality as a scientific field for experts and researchers is that even though on certain occasions behavior can indicate consistency, it may not be enough to indicate the possibility of an individual exhibiting a certain behavior or action in a situation. Even after evaluating the personality of an individual on personality tests and accurately predicting the same, there may be errors. Errors can be reduced only when the tester takes into consideration an aggregate of multiple behaviors.

Sample Response

Personality comprises of social attitudes, behavioral styles, and individual thoughts, which can influence an individual's perception of themselves, the way they view others, and the way they perceive the surrounding world. 


There are multiple theories of personality formulated by eminent psychologists. Some of them are as follows:

  • Psychoanalytic theory: This theory was formulated by Psychologist SF and aimed at reflecting upon the influence or contribution of the unconscious mind on the development of personality.
  • Humanistic theory: This modern theory developed with the contribution of Psychologist AB, who claimed that rather than conceiving the idea of personality as abnormal or normal, it is crucial to understand that the individual can be impacted by the conscious mind in the normal states of the mind. Humanists claim that individuals have the ability to make independent choices and that understanding individual personality can be dependent upon subjective experiences and interactions with the external environment.
  • Trait theory: The trait theory formulated by Psychologist GA denoted that personality is a collection of various aspects or characteristics present in an individual known as dispositions or traits. These traits aid in identifying the uniqueness of individuals.

The following are two types of tests or forms of assessment applicable in personality psychology:

  • Objective tests: The assessment of these tests is not impacted by the tester's or researcher's individual beliefs and biases due to the self-reported measures of personality [Minnesota-Multiphasic Personality Inventory and Myers Briggs Type Indicator].
  • Projective tests: These tests are mostly based on Psychologist SF's psychoanalytic theory and aim to decode the unconscious urges or beliefs of the clients, that is, these tests can be sensitive to the examiner's beliefs.

The following two arguments can be considered crucial when understanding personality as a scientific field:

  • Personality as a scientific study of human behavior can prove to be beneficial for researchers and experts.
  • Personality as a scientific study of human behavior might not prove to be reliable for experts and researchers.
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