Personality assessments typically fall into two sorts - Type and Trait measures. Type measures consider that personality can be grouped into discrete categories (e.g. extrovert or introvert). These include MBTI, Insights Discovery and DISC. Trait measures consider that these characteristics can be placed on a continuum (e.g. in a middling position on the introvert/extrovert continuum). These include 'Big Five' tools such as NEO PI, Hogan and OPQ. Type measures allow for a limited number of personality characteristic combinations. In contrast, Trait measures allow for a potentially infinite number of trait variations on the continuum basis. They are fundamentally different.
1. Raising self-awareness (for development purposes)
2. Predicting future behaviour (for recruitment and selection purposes)
Because tools which are invalid and inaccurate will not only to fail to achieve their purpose but in the process will mislead, waste money and may cause harm. Surely, that's unethical?
Yet while Trait-based assessments are gaining significant ground in the psychometric market, Type-based assessments are still prominent and widely used.
People love their Insights Discovery (and similar) reports. They are energised by the findings, will proactively send us (as coaches) their prior reports, and report finding them very useful. With high face validity, these reports also look great, they are simple and quick to understand and they lend themselves to immediate action. In contrast many of the trait-based assessment reports do few of these things. They're accurate and comprehensive but also lengthy and complicated at first sight and there is more reading to do.
Most people we work with have no idea of the relative merits of these tools but will take them on trust and at face value. In a busy schedule who wouldn't prefer the report which looks right and is easy to use? So, our message to the developers of those preferred Trait assessments, please look again at your reports - further enhancement would make our work promoting accurate information much easier!
We'd love to know your views and experiences on personality assessment, Please do share any comments below. If you'd like to discuss the use of psychometrics in your team or organisation do get in touch.