Objective Tests

Objective Personality Measures: Administer standard set of questions and the examinee responds using a fixed set of option choices (ex: T/F or Y/N response).

Advantages of Objective Tests or Self-Report Inventories

  • Economical—large groups can be tested after only brief instructions.
  • Administration and scoring is also very simple thus making interpretation easier (e.g. functional- dysfunctional). But it is very objective and reliable.

Disadvantages of Objective Tests or Self-Report Inventories

  • Questions are behavioral in nature and so may not characterize the respondent (can't tell why different people gave same response).
  • A single score is provided to look at both cognitions and emotions, but individuals who receive the same overall score may have different cognitions and emotions.
  • Option choice prevents respondents from providing answer reasons, so information may be lost.

Methods of Construction for Objective Tests

Content Validation

  • Best for clinicians to decide what they wish to test and then ask the patient that information.
  • Content validation focuses on:

o A. defining relevant aspects of the variable looking to be measured

o B. consulting experts before generating items

o C. Using judges to assess each potential items relevance to the variable of interest

o D. Using psychometric analysis to assess each item before it is included in the measure.

Empirical Criterion Keying

  • No assumption is made as to whether a patient is really telling the truth about feelings.
  • Assumes that members of a certain diagnostic group will respond in the same way
  • Utility of an item is based on its ability to discriminate between groups.
  • Difficulty with interpreting the meaning of a score.

Factor Analysis or Internal Consistency Approach

  • Seeks to reduce or “purify” the scales to reflect basic personality dimensions.
  • Exploratory Approach: Taking various items and then reducing these items to basic elements— (ex: personality, adjustment) to arrive at core traits of personality.
  • Confirmatory Factor Approach: Seek to confirm a hypothesized factor structure (based on predictions) for test items. Largely used by clinicians because it is empirical.

Construct Validity Approach

  • Scales are developed to measure specific constructs from a theory (personality). Validation is obtained when the scale measures the theoretical construct.
  • The most desirable and labor-intensive approach

Description of MMPI

  • Uses the Keying Approach; Hathaway & McKinley wanted to identify psychiatric diagnoses of individuals. Originally designed for ages 16+, but was also used with younger individuals.
  • Given to both clinical and non-clinical population.
  • 550 items that were answered T/F or “can't say”. Only items that differentiated clinical from non-clinical individuals (ex: depressed individuals vs. non-clinical individuals) were included.

Description of MMPI-2

  • MMPI originally overemphasized the U.S. population and lacked diversity; this was changed.
  • Language was changed to be modern, & 154 new items were added bringing total to 704 items.
  • Lower age range—can be used with at least 13 year olds or those with 8th grade education level.
  • Versions in multiple languages are available & an adolescent version MMPI-A is also available.

Validity Scales

  • As MMPI & MMPI-2 as self-report measures they are susceptible to distortion due to attitudes.
  • To detect “faking-bad” behavior the MMPI & MMPI-2 incorporates 4 validity scales:

Cannot Say Scale—items left unanswered

F(Infrequency) Scale—tendency to exaggerate one's problems/ symptoms L (Lie) Scale—attempts to present oneself favorably

o K (Defensiveness) Scale—attempts to present oneself favorably

  • “Added” MMPI-2:

o Fb (Back-page Infrequency) Scale—tendency to exaggerate one's problem's/symptoms o VRIN (Variable Response Inconsistency) Scale—random responding or T/F to most items o TRIN (True Response Inconsistency) Scale—random responding or T/F to most items

Short Forms and Interpretation Through Patterns (Profile Analysis)

  • Shortened versions of the MMPI & MMPI-2; but loss of interpretation is present and intense scrutiny should be present in terms of whether these and reliable and valid measures.
  • MMPI—interpretation on elevated scale scores (ex: high Sc scored schizophrenia).
  • MMPI-2—interpretation of “pattern or profile” test scores

Interpretation Through Content and Supplementary Scales

  • Shift from clinical use of MMPI & MMPI-2—away from use of differential psychiatric diagnosis based on a single score to a more sophisticated profile analysis of scale scores.
  • MMPI-2: Content scales have been developed (ex: identify health concerns, identity fears...)
  • Supplementary Scales: 450 MMPI scales ranging from Dominance to Success in Basketball! MMPI-2 there are 20 supplementary scales (ex:nxiety, Strength, Social Responsibility).

A Summary Evaluation of the MMPI and MMPI-2

Screening and The Question of Personality Traits

  • MMPI-2 useful for information about mental disorder diagnosis in terms of severity and hypothesis generator.
  • Not useful for a screening specific disorders (ex: depression) as very long + time intensive.
  • Atheoretical: MMPI measures symptoms of psychopathology. Not useful for understanding general personality traits and situational determinants.

Reliability and Validity of MMPI-2

  • Lacks internal consistency but do show good test-retest reliability.
  • Strong validity with external correlates—emotional states, stress reactivity.
  • 2 aspects of validity for MMPI-2 (Butcher et al., 1995)—incremental validity & cut-off scores.

o Incremental Validity: If a scale's score provides information about a person's personality features, behavior or psychopathology that is not provided by other measures

  • All psychological tests including MMPI-2 lack incremental validity.

o Cut-off scores validity: Varies on the nature of the sample population (which patients have or don't have the disorder).

  • MMPI-2 cut off T score of 65+ may or may not be appropriate.

Personnel Selection and Bias

  • Empirical Criterion Keying approach limits usage of MMPI-2 to those that understand it.
  • May not be appropriate to use MMPI-2 to screen candidates for employment hiring (invasion of privacy into religious beliefs, sexual orientation).
  • MMPI original—may be biased against ethnic groups. Test Bias means that different predictions are made for two groups even when they receive the same score.

Concerns about the MMPI-2

  • The normative sample is too education; individuals without college degrees not represented.
  • Criteria for inclusion of “normal respondents” is confusing.
  • Those who are administered both versions of the MMPI show different results on each version.
  • Scores on MMPI-2 are lower than the MMPI
  • Internal consistency of the MMPI-2 Scale is low

The Revised NEO-Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R)


  • Self-report personality inventory that is made up of the Five-Factor Model (FFM)
  • OCEAN (Openness to Experience, Consciousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism).

o There are 6 subscales/facet scales for each FFM

  • The 240 items are rated on a scale (strongly disagree, disagree, neural, agree, strongly agree)
  • Original Version (Costa & McCrae) looked at only Neuroticism, Extraversion and Openness.
  • Half of the items are reverse scored—lower scores are more indicative of a trait.

Norms and Reliability & Stability, Factor Structure

  • S. Census for distribution of age and racial groups as well as college students.
  • Excellent internal consistency and test-retest reliability (for periods as long as 6 years later).
  • Factor analysis have supported the NEO-PI-R five-factor-model structure.

Clinical Applications, Alternative Forms of the NEO-PI-R

  • Axis II (Personality Problems), application to the NEO-PI-R makes sense.
  • The NEO-PI-R and related FFM can be used for clinical assessment related to Axis I & II disorders.
  • 60 question NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI); but has no facet scales. There is also Form R. Limitations of the NEO-PI-R
  • Lack of validity scales, has no items to assess response patterns and test taking approach.
  • May not be good for clinical diagnosis because it was based of a “normal” personality

Nature of Projective Tests

  • Projective techniques: First developed by Rorschach in 1921, uses inkblots as a method of differential diagnosis for psychopathology. Characterized as a person's modes of behavior by observing their behavior in response to a situation that does not elicit a particular response.
  • Characteristics include:
  1. Examinees are forced to impose their own structure and reveal something of themselves when responding to ambiguous stimuli
  2. Stimulus material is unstructured (supposed to be ambiguous without a clear answer).
  3. Method is indirect—examinees are not aware of the purpose of the test.
  4. There is freedom in response—allows a range of responses
  5. Response interpretation deals with more variables—allows for interpretation along multiple dimensions.

Standardization of Projective Tests, Reliability and Validity

  • If they were standardized it would allow for communication & checks against biases.
  • Other's ague that project tests can't be standardized because each person is unique.
  • Test-retest reliability may change with participants over time, but even split-half reliability is difficult to demonstrate in projective tests.
  • Validity needs to ask specific questions: Does the TAT predict aggression in situation A?

The Rorschach Inkblot Test

Description and Administration of Rorschach

  • Consists of 10 cards on which inkblot images are printed. 5 black & white and 5 colored
  • “Tell me what you see, there are no right or wrong answers, tell me what it looks like to you”
  • Cards are administered in order and clinician notes down patient's responses word for word.
  • Other recorded aspects: lengths of time to make response, total time spent on card, position of the card, all spontaneous remarks (um, uh.).
  • Inquiry: At the end patient is reminded of their responses to each card and asked what prompted that response.


  • Location: Area of the card that the patient responds to (whole, blot, large detail, white space.)
  • Content: What is the object that is being viewed (animal, rock, clothing, person.)
  • Determinants: What aspect of the card prompted patient's response (form of the blot, color, texture, shading.)

o Some tests also score Popular responses and Original responses

o Exner's Comprehensive System of scoring is the most used.

  • Most clinicians do not formally score the Rorschach but simply rely on determinants.
  • Exner's Scoring System—strong for test-retest reliability and construct validity.

Reliability and Validity of Rorschach

  • Many argue that reliability across time or test conditions does not exist for the Rorschach, while others counter-argue this statement.
  • Clinicians who haven't been trained together & that use free-wheeling interpretation of the Rorschach makes interpreting the test difficult.
  • Rorschach may be valid only under certain conditions; with the average validity being .41 (this has not been steady as another clinician found a value of .29).

Rorschach Inkblot Method

  • Best viewed as a method of data collection and not a “test”, as it is subject to interpretation.
  • Viewing it as a method allows clinicians to use all aspects of the data output.

The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)


  • 31 TAT cards (of that 20 is recommended to be given to an examinee). Not as ambiguous as the Rorschach but not clear cut either.

o Other versions: Roberts Apperception Test and Children's Apperception Test]

  • Reveal patient's basic personality characteristics by their interpretation of their responses to a series of pictures.
  • Used as a method inferring psychological needs (ex: for achievement, sex, power...) and how the patient interacts with the environment. Used to infer content of personality & mode of social interaction.

Administration and Scoring

  • 6-12 cards are administered and patient's responses and noted down word-for-word.
  • “Make up a story for each of these pictures, who are these people, what are they doing.”
  • Not much emphasis is placed on scoring TAT's as the types of responses are so varied.

Reliability and Validity

  • Very difficult to assess validity and reliability (as a result of personality changes—test-retest).
  • Broadly looks at reliability of interpretations—when there is explicit scoring instructs interjudge reliability can be achieved.
  • Comparing TAT data with case data and patient evaluations, matching techniques with no prior patient knowledge and general principles interpretation include ways of establishing validity.
  • There are no adequate norms for TAT and typically clinicians interpret responses (no scores).

Sentence Completion Techniques

  • Most used is the Rotter Incomplete Sentences Blank.
  • Incomplete Sentences Blank—uses 40 sentence stems (ex: I like.., What annoys me..)
  • Completions are scored along a 7-point scale for adjustment-maladjustment.
  • Very versatile and has a strong scoring system that is objective and reliable (but also has freedom of response), it can be used economically and is a good screening device.

Illusory Correlation

  • Not a lot of evidence backing these “signs” associated with certain personalities.
  • Poor correlation between making valid statement about patients on the basis of their responses—illusory correlation can lead to error.

Incremental Validity and Utility

  • Refers to the degree to which a procedure adds to the prediction obtainable from other sources.
  • Assessment must inform the clinicians of something that the base rate/prevalence rate can't.

Use and Abuse of Testing: Protections, The Question of Privacy

  • Clinicians should use only assessments that lie within their competence (only then can they acquire tests).
  • The examinee or individual has a right to full explanation of how their responses & results will be used. Informed consent must thus be obtained.
  • Must only be given tests relevant to the evaluation and reason for test must be provided.

Use and Abuse of Testing: The Question of Confidentiality & The Question of Discrimination

  • There are cases in which confidential matters must be disclosed (i.e. Tarasoff case). If the person is going to harm themselves or others, then information can't be privileged.
  • Tests might discriminate against minorities (only include White-middle class populations) or include only certain population members (ex: TAT only white members in cards)

Use and Abuse of Testing: Test Bias

  • This is a validity issue (i.e. criterion or performance varies significantly across groups). That it is more accurate for one group than another.

o Using traits characteristic for one group (ex: men) but not the other group (ex: women).

  • Differences in mean scores does not mean bias, and bias can be overcome.

The Use and Abuse of Testing: Computer-Based Assessment

  • Used to standardize tests, interpret responses, cut costs, increase clients attention.
  • Internet based psychological testing may lack qualities of traditional testing—less reliable, valid, lack of control over testing situation, technological issues, cultural differences in test interpretation.
  • Computer Based Test Interpretation (CBTI's): Generate quick responses and processing complex scores, but they must result in inaccurate interpretations of results.
  • CBTI's must be clinically useful (should aid in clinical understanding and treatment), valid (accurate interpretations) and reliable (interpretations should be similar for similar scores).
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