Trait Theories

In psychological assessment, personality inventories have a very broad range of uses and implications. The purpose of utilizing personality inventories in a clinical setting is to add to information that a psychologist or other professional already knows about an individual. Using what is known about certain types of personalities and behaviors that are typically associated with them, professionals can use personality inventories to better create a plan for treatment when an individual enters into therapy.

Another growing area in which personality inventories are utilized is organizational decision making. Narrowing down prospective employees is done using a variety of different methods, and the methods of each business or organization differ, but many give personality inventories as a way of deciding which employees would be a good fit with company workers and values. One of the most popular personality tests is based on the Big Five personality traits.

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The Big Five personality traits consist of Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. The acronym OCEAN is often used to denote these five personality traits. The traits were created using statistical technique called factor analysis, where hundreds of words used to describe personality traits were narrowed down to these five categories.

Tests based on the Big Five personality theory typically have items that are all scored on a five-point scale; with possible responses range from strongly disagree to strongly agree. A person’s results on this personality inventory are thought to help decipher normal and pathological personality types, job performance, and a person’s interests.


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