Personality Diagnostics - I am the way I am! But how am I actually?

Anna Albrecht
May 30, 2023

How do we describe other people?

In everyday life, we quickly form an image of other people. We observe others and derive a repertoire of sensations and behavior. This is very important for us in a social context. It is our prediction of what the other person is like and gives us a behavioral plan of how we can - perhaps must - deal with him or her. For example, is our counterpart a friend or an enemy, what warmth or coldness do I feel at the sight of him or her, and what competence do I attribute to the other person (cf. Uleman & Kressel, 2013)?

This process of inferring behavioral characteristics causes us little trouble. This way of judging is rather automatic. We ourselves are usually not aware of exactly how we do it. We constantly re-evaluate the counterpart as soon as we notice that our previous concept - our expectation - does not match the behavior shown. So we make some mistakes in this intuitively guided diagnostic process. Many assumptions are stereotypical in nature and in most cases do not do justice to our counterpart. In a private context, these erroneous conclusions need not have severe consequences. In the work context, however, a bad decision would simply be made. For example, in a candidate selection process, the wrong candidate would win the race. Sometimes there are as many judgments from us as everyday psychologists as there are observers. When describing personality for candidate selection and team analysis, we should leave nothing to chance. Is there anything better than our intuitive judgments as observers?

How do you describe psychological personality diagnostics?

Psychological personality diagnostics, as mechanical judgment, has advantages over the intuitively guided assessment of a person's characteristics. These advantages are best described by the quality criteria that can be applied to a personality test. In contrast to an intuitively guided assessment of an evaluating person, personality diagnostics emphasizes standardized and structured implementation, evaluation and interpretation. This means that all persons are evaluated in the same way. This is referred to as the objectivity of a test. It is given when the test result can only be explained by characteristics of the person. Not by influences of the test or the assessor. A negative example would be when observers in a candidate selection process will influence the decision by their own mood or reduced attention. Likewise, characteristics of the person being evaluated play a decision-distorting role. For example, high attractiveness in most cases leads to a sympathetic basic attitude towards the person, which positively distorts the overall judgment - this is referred to as the Halo Effect (cf. p. 320, Schmidt-Atzert & Amelang, 2012). soft.fact's instrument for personality description follows the principles of psychological personality diagnostics. Through our team design soft.ware we ensure that:

  • the personality test is conducted in the same way for all users,
  • immediately evaluated by our algorithm and
  • is interpreted in the same way in the result with the help of our recommendations for action.

The decisive advantage of a valid personality test lies in the measurability of the quality (goodness) of the result. One speaks of high validity if the test really measures what it claims to measure (Kelley, 1927, p. 14; quoted from Eid & Schmidt, 2014). The test result can be described transparently - at least in a good psychological diagnostic test procedure. This means that it can be explained at any point in time how the test result was obtained.

In addition, the instrument itself can be tested, e.g., by comparing the test results with related or unrelated test results. Thus, it can be checked whether the results are due to the criterion of interest (personality), something related (e.g. temperament) or something completely different (e.g. attractiveness). The latter must be avoided or controlled.

What is the aim of personality diagnostics?

The aim of personality diagnostics is to describe, explain and predict human experience and behavior. More precisely, the experience and behavior typical for the person. For this purpose, the (latent) construct personality is operationalized by individual measurable (manifest) criteria, i.e. psychometrically surveyed.

In other words, qualities that cannot be measured directly are translated into numbers. There is no scale by which to determine a person's sociability by weight. There is also no tape measure to measure sociability. Sociability is not directly observable as a trait. However, one can make concrete assumptions about the behavior of sociable people and record them by a measuring instrument (e.g.: questionnaire). Depending on the measuring instrument, reaction times, pupil size, skin conductance, neuronal activity, electrical tension of the scalp or, in the case of a questionnaire, answer categories are taken into account. These assumptions can then be verified by scientific methods of statistics.

A personality test can be used to answer specific questions. For example, a company looking for socially adaptable, accommodating employees can formulate a corresponding question: "Does the candidate score at least above average on the Agreeableness scale in the personality test? A traffic psychologist, on the other hand, will be interested in facets of personality, e.g., irritability, which provides information about whether a person is a risk on the road.

What is the best personality?

Unlike performance tests (e.g. intelligence, attention), there is no right or wrong in a personality questionnaire. Differences between people must be noted. Each expression on a trait holds advantages in itself. A person with a personality that has a firm grip on their emotions and a more controlled demeanor will support a team in stressful, emotionally charged situations. On the other hand, a person with a low level of emotional stability can feel strong joy and thus inspire his colleagues in the team and get them excited about something. The question of THE desirable personality does not arise at all. It depends on the context, which relates to the tasks that the team has to master and the composition of the team in terms of personalities (Wilde, 2008).

What methods of personality diagnostics are there?

Mostly a personality test is recorded via a questionnaire. In this, the reporters assess themselves. This method of subjective self-assessment is subject to some distortions. Among other things, because we tend to see ourselves as we think we are, not as we are (cf. 211, Asendorpf & Neyer, 2012). The objectivity of this assessment can be increased by having not only the person in question make an assessment, but also strangers. The true value of the expression of the personality trait most likely lies in the mean of the self-assessments and the assessments by others.

Another method of recording personality is an objective measurement procedure. Such a test is considered in theory to be safe against socially desirable influences. This refers to answers that are given because they correspond to a social norm e.g.: stable emotionality (cf. p. 23, Moosbrugger & Kelava, 2012) or violate a social norm e.g.: racism (see implicit association test by Greenwald, McGhee & Schwartz, 1998). In such a test, an attempt is made to measure characteristics of personality indirectly, i.e., the subject is not aware of what the test actually measures (cf. p. 31, Moosbrugger & Kelava, 2012). The basis for this is the behavior shown in a constructed situation. Even though the idea is of an ingenious nature, as it reduces the falsifiability of a test and could provide a "quasi-objective" result, there are so far no high correlations between objective and subjective measurement methods (e.g. questionnaires).

Projective methods attempt to capture an evaluative tendency by transferring internal attitudes to an external stimulus, e.g., a photograph or situation description. (Cf. p. 31, Moosbrugger & Kelava, 2012).

The group of instrument-based tests is particularly suitable for the assessment of sensorimotor characteristics (cf. p. 31, Moosbrugger & Kelava, 2012). These include, for example, attention span, achievement motive (Schmidt-Atzert, 2007), and risk taking (Lejuez et al, 2002).

You want to take a look at your own profile directly?

Then get your own personality test with our free personality analysis: Start the soft.fact Personality Analysis now.


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Eid, M., & Schmidt, K. (2014). Test theory and test construction. Hogrefe Verlag.

Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: the implicit association test. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(6), 1464.

Lejuez, C. W., Read, J. P., Kahler, C. W., Richards, J. B., Ramsey, S. E., Stuart, G. L., ... & Brown, R. A. (2002). Evaluation of a behavioral measure of risk taking: the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 8(2), 75.

Manz, W., & Lueck, H. E. (1968). Influence of wearing glasses on personality ratings: crosscultural validation of an old experiment. Perceptual and Motor Skills.

Moosbrugger, H., & Kelava, A. (2012). Test theory and questionnaire construction.

Schmidt-Atzert, L., & Amelang, M. (2012). Psychological diagnostics (Textbook with online materials). Springer Science & Business Media.

Schmidt-Atzert, L. (2007). Objective Achievement Motivation Test (OLMT) [Software and Manual]. Mödling, Austria: Dr. G. Schuhfried GmbH.

Uleman, J. S., & Kressel, L. M. (2013). A brief history of theory and research on impression formation. In D. E. Carlston (Ed.), Oxford library of psychology. The Oxford handbook of social cognition (p. 53-73). Oxford University Press.

Wilde, D. J. (2008). Teamology: the construction and organization of effective teams. Springer Science & Business Media.

Anna Albrecht
September 1, 2023