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Personality assessment refers to an attempt to measure the personal characteristics in an individual based on the assumption that much of the observable behavior in individuals vary as a result of possession of peculiar underlying personal traits. The aim of this is to seek to define traits, measure them objectively, and to relate them to socially significant aspects of behavior. This process of measuring personality is done using four basic tools that are closely associated with each of the major theories of personality as herein outlined.
The first method of personality assessment is through observation. Behaviorists and social learning theorists prefer this method of assessing personality because it allows them to see how situations influence behavior and to note the range of behaviors the person is capable of exhibiting (p.442) this works best with children given that most people are self-conscious especially when they know that they are being watched. Observation may not be too accurate a method as it is time consuming and the presence of the observer affects the behavior of individuals. The observer also suffers a risk of misinterpreting the exact meaning of certain behaviors.
Personal interview is yet another avenue of personality assessment and some of the theories that are closely associated with it are the psychodynamic theory, humanistic theory and the social learning theory. Through an interview, an interviewer is able to uncover feelings, motives, and conflicts of the interviewee based on the responses given. The method is related to the humanistic theory in that through an interview, one is in a position to determine the potential vested in an individual and discover some of the possible setbacks that can hinder one from personal growth and achievement of higher levels of functioning. An interviewer can also deduce much from an interview about the interviewee by simply observing their behavior hence social learning.
The other method of personality assessment is the use of objective tests, a method that was devised as a technique of avoiding dependence on an observer or an interviewer to assess personality. In addition, the approach involves taking standard tests that are scored according to standard procedures. According to the author this technique has two major setbacks. The first one is that they rely entirely on self-report and secondly is that the familiarity of these tests as a result of earlier similar ones may affect the responses to current tests especially where people have participated in other similar tests (p. 443). This approach is closely related to the humanistic theory as well as the trait theory as the latter are known to take keen interest in accurate measurement of personality traits. These tests are inexpensive to use and easy to score, but rely on people's self-report of their own behavior (p. 449.).
Lastly, there is the use of projective tests that are closely associated with the psychodynamic theory of personality. In this, one is able to discover some of the feelings, motives or conflicts emanating from the past. Projective tests are flexible and can be treated as puzzles or games. People can take them while relaxed and the person being examined does not know the exact purpose of the test hence the results are less likely to be faked.