Objective Personality Tests
The best known objective personality test is the MMPI. This test
was created primarily to measure psychopathology. It contains several validity
scales to determine if the client is responding to the questions accurately and
truthfully, and it also contains ten basic clinical scales. Hundreds of
additional scales have been created for the MMPI to measure virtually every
personality trait and emotion conceivable. The MMPI was recently revised; the
MMPI-2 is now the more commonly used edition. The MMPI is interpreted by looking
at scale elevations and configurations. Although limited interpretation can be
done by computer programs, a skilled psychologist is needed to make accurate
interpretation which take into account a person's background and other test
data. The MCMI-III is another test similar to the MMPI. It contains scales which
closely correspond to the diagnoses in DSM-IV. It is particularly useful for the
diagnosis of personality disorders. Other objective tests, such as the 16PF and
the Myers-Briggs are more useful for looking at personality in the normal range,
and are more helpful for counseling as opposed to psychiatric treatment.
Brief Summary of MMPI Scales:
Please note that the following is a very simplistic summary. If you have your
own or someone else's MMPI results you should not draw conclusions based on what
you see below. If you are not familiar with this test, you should rely on the
judgment of a psychologist who is specifically trained and experienced with both
the MMPI and testing in general. A professional can take into account
demographic and other factors and understands the psychometric strengths and
weakness of this test. S/he can also interpret score configurations, rather than
taking a single score out of context.
With all that in mind, a high score on these scales indicates:
L: Reluctance to admit minor and common moral weaknesses
F: Tendency to exaggerate problems
K: Reluctance to reveal problems
1: Overconcern regarding physical problems
3: Tendency to repress and deny problems; shallow relationships
4: Rebelliousness; disregard for social conventions; authority conflict
5: Males: Sensitivity and cultural interests/Females: Assertiveness
7: Chronic anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies
8: Feelings of being overwhelmed; loss of contact with reality
9: High energy level which is not directed; grandiosity.
The Myers-Briggs, perhaps more than any other objective personality test, has
captured popular imagination. This doesn't necessarily reflect better validity
or accuracy than other tests, but more likely represents the ease of
interpretation and broad application.
The Myers-Briggs consists of four scales, each of which places the test-taker as
one of two personality classifications, based on Carl Jung's theories. Combining
these scales results in 2 X 2 X 2 X 2 = 16 personality types.
The four scales are:
Attitudes: Extraversion (E) / Introversion (I): E types tend to become energized
by action and interaction with others; I types tend to prefer reflection and
calm, and become drained by action.
Functions (S/N): Sensing (S) / iNtuition (N): S types trust tangible
information. N types trust abstract, theoretical information and are more likely
to believe in "hunches."
Functions (T/F): Thinking (T) / Feeling (F): F types prefer to reach consensus
on decisions and strongly empathize with others. T types tend to remain more
objective, using reason and logic to reach decisions.
Lifestyles: Judging (J) / Perception (P): Judging types prefer to have matters
settled. P types would rather keep options open.
The Myers-Briggs has wide application, including vocational and relationship
counseling. A description of each of the 16 personality types can be found at
the Myers-Briggs Foundation website.