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How accurate are personality tests? Report and reflect on your own experiences as a participant, referring to theories and current research.
In this assignment, you have an opportunity to evaluate the utility of personality tests based on relevant personality theories, research, and your own experiences as a participant. This report should be no longer than 2000 words (-/+ 10%, including in-text references/excluding the reference list).
You should choose one personality test to complete/reflect on. It could be a measure that you completed during the teaching weeks, or something that you find independently. Think about your experiences of completing the measure, and link this to the theories/models/research behind personality assessment. The task is to critically evaluate the utility of the test, linking the participant perspective to theories and research.
The style of the report will be a mixture of first-person personal reflections and third-person academic writing.
You should start each point in the main body with your (first-person) reflection (e.g., “I felt that I would have answered the questions differently when I was younger’; ‘I experienced…’). Following this, you should find explanations in the literature for your experience and evaluate it with third-person writing. For example, does the test lack test-retest reliability? Or if the test-retest reliability exists, are the studies testing it just shorter-term investigations (e.g., a few months). Are there longitudinal studies using this questionnaire? Do these studies suggest that people score differently at a different age? You can choose which parts of the literature the third-person evaluation is based on. You should then conclude the theories/research with your first-person reflection- how do you explain your experiences in the light of literature?
Each teaching week is potentially relevant to this assessment. You will have completed various psychometric measures and discussed/written reflections of them on your portfolio. You should now revisit the formative discussions and think about how you could link the ideas to your chosen psychometric measure. Have a think about your experiences and choose the ones you would like to discuss. We would expect that students discuss between 2-4 points in their report.
As an example, when completing the personality test you chose, you may have felt that you had the need to answer the questions in a socially desirable manner, rather than in a way that truly reflects your personality. You could write briefly about this as a personal reflection to start the paragraph – just a sentence or two. This would be the first-person reflection that “introduces” the theory/research you will be discussing.
You could then continue to the third-person evaluation of the psychometric test and social desirability – what does the research say? Does social desirability influence the accuracy of this particular test? You can also make links to social desirability and personality testing more generally if/when appropriate.
You could then link back to your experiences in the light of the research that you found. For example, although you may feel you have the tendency to respond in a socially desirable manner, perhaps research has found that social desirability bias is not an issue in this test. You could then briefly discuss why you felt it is an issue. For example, could it be linked to your age/background/mood etc? Alternatively, research could have found that social desirability bias is an issue with this particular test, in which case you could explore briefly how to counteract this bias.
Remember that this is a Master’s level assessment, which means that you can use your own judgement when deciding how to approach the topic. We do not have a prescribed list of what should be included in the report. It is your task to choose how to frame the report, starting with your experiences with a particular test you choose. We can however offer the following advice on how to structure your report:
The report should have the following structure (note that the word counts are indicative only). As always, the report should begin with a very brief introduction to the report, what will it focus on? What will it do?
Introduction to personality testing (300-600 words):
This section should introduce the benefits and pitfalls of personality testing in more generic terms (rather than focusing strictly on the specific test you will be discussing in the latter part of the report). Some of the possible points (of many available) for introduction could be:
popularity of personality testing and self-reports
reliability and validity of tests
validity of the theoretical assumptions behind the tests (e.g., are the tests measuring real concepts?)
participants behaviour during testing (e.g., socially desirable responding, acquiescence)
applicability of the tests outside the WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, And Democratic) context
personality change vs stability
Due to the limitations with the word count, make sure you are not trying to include TOO many ideas in the introduction. Choose the content in a way that allows you to link it to your experiences which you will be discussing later in the report. In short, have a more general introduction to the topics you will be discussing in the reflections of a specific instrument.
Brief introduction to the specific test you will evaluate later (100-300 words):
In this section, give a brief introduction to the test you have chosen. You could briefly explain
What is it testing?
How was it developed? (e.g., is it based on a theory? Is it based on lexical analyses? Is it based on the gut-feelings of the researcher or was it rigorously developed?).
How is the test conducted (how many items/how is it scored)?
Evaluation of the test based on your experiences as a participant (500-1000 words)
This section is based on your experiences of the test but should also link to the theories/research. For me, an example of this might be that whilst completing questionnaires based on the OCEAN model of Big Five, I always struggle to answer the specific questions unless they are tied to a time frame or event as I find my behaviour can change depending on these (first-person writing). I might then find research that explains why I find this difficult to do (third-person writing). I could then link the research back to my experiences- does it explain why I found it challenging to answer the questions (first-person writing).
You can choose how to structure this part. You can write each point (reflection, literature, reflection) in one paragraph or break it into several paragraphs.
Use your own judgment to decide what works best for the structure. Make sure that each paragraph has a clear point and a three-part structure (introduction to the point you make, main body where you qualify/evaluate the point, and a brief conclusion to the point). As a rule of thumb, each paragraph should be between 3-8 sentences long. If you feel like the paragraph is getting too long, consider breaking it down into two or three paragraphs instead.
You should have a minimum of two, but no more than four reflections to evaluate here. Give each reflection roughly the same amount of attention in terms of the word count.
Brief conclusion (100-200 words)
Based on your experiences and the literature, what do you think about this test? Is this test accurate? If not, how could it be improved?
Remember that the word count suggestions for each section are just indicative- make sure that the total word count is no more than 2000 words. Each section can be under or over the suggested word count if this is necessary for your arguments! You should use your own judgment here. For those of you not familiar with writing self-reflections, please refer to the Introducing Reflective Practice document Download Introducing Reflective Practice document by Prof Alex Forsythe.
This activity will be graded and you will receive feedback on it. The Assignment Two Marking Proforma Download Assignment Two Marking Proforma document provides information on how this assignment will be marked.
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