27 Nov 2022


Personality Assessments: The Best Personality Tests to Take

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The American Psychology Association (APA) defines personality assessment as the ability and capacity to test personal traits and styles using a professional psychology apparatus (APA, 2016). There are various modes and ways of conducting personality assessment, two among these means include the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) which is purely behavioral and the physiognomy and genetics based Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ). From a clinical perspective, the main purpose for personality assessment is to enable better diagnosis for psychological conditions, develop better interventions and treatments for these conditions as well as more accurately predict human behavior from different contexts (Miserandino, 2011). From a non-clinical perspective, personality tests are used to measure suitability for specific specialized activities including high pressure and tension activities as well as critical responsibility duties. 

The full version of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) is a 240-item process premised on the big five personality traits often listed in acronym as OCEAN or CANOE. This acronym stands for openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. The test is only valid if at least 200 of the 240 items have been filled. It however, has a smaller version known as the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) which has only 60 steps. NEO PI-R is a modification and advancement of the erstwhile NEO personality inventory known as Costa and McCrae’s developed in 1978 (Miserandino, 2007). 

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Both the precursor and the current version of the NEO PI-R inventory were developed by Paul Costa, Jr. and Robert McCrae in 1978 then revised and renamed NEO PI-R in 1992. It was then continuously advanced with the current version having been published in 2010. The 2010 version comes in two forms, the self-report forms and the observer form. The NEO PI-R is premised on the hypothesis that all the traits and element of an individual’s characters are reducible into five major categories as per the five elements (Costa Jr. & McCrae, 2007; Miserandino, 2007). 

It is on these same premises that the fundamental lexical hypothesis is based with regard to language development. Therefore, as per the five-factor model (FFM), all other personality traits pertaining to an individual fall under one of the big five personality traits. For instance, all traits relating to self-expression such as unreservedness, forcefulness, excitement seeking, warmth, bustle, and positive emotions all fall under the major trait of extraversion. NEO PI-R is mainly used for professional psychological testing during individual and community counseling (Costa Jr & McCrae, 2007). 

According to Judge et al (2013), NEO PI-R has been successfully used to assess potential employees during the hiring processes. For a counselor to determine the issues to be resolved and the appropriate approach to solve them, it is important to understand a person’s personality. A careful perusal of available bibliography regarding NEO PI-R clearly shows that it is both a valid and reliable tool for personality assessment and is in common use both locally and internationally (Piedmont, 2001; Miserandino, 2007; APA, 2016). 

The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) seeks to identify and classify behavioral traits purely from a biological perspective by studying the test subjects’ physiognomy and genetic make-up (Eysenck & Eysenck, 2013). It is from this biological trait that the EPQ generates its psychological personality assessment. EPQ was developed in 1975 and revised in 1985 by Hans Jürgen Eysenck and his wife Sybil Bianca Eysenck (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975). The 1985 version commonly referred to as the EPQ-R, has a full version of 100 purely yes or no questions with a concise edition of 48 yes or no questions (Eysenck & Eysenck, 2013; Lewis & Musharraf, 2014). 

The basic concept behind the EPQ in general is temperament; a behavioral characteristic premised in the genetic inheritance of an individual and is present even before birth. Whereas its developers also believed that behavioral characteristics can also be generated from cognitive input, they did not incorporate that element into the EPQ. The entire concept is reduced to two biological attributes labeled E and N and lead to the psychological derivative called P (Miserandino, 2011). 

The E stands for Extraversion/Introversion. According to Eysenck, extraverts are biologically too excited or excitable and need some form of tranquilization while introverts are too reserved and need some external stimuli. The N stands for Neuroticism/Stability. Neuroticism denotes the genetic capacity to overreact to stimuli through the ease of stimulation of the fight-flight part of the brain, and the lower the Neuroticism, the higher the individual’s stability. According to Eysenck, Neuroticism can be measured physically through blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, sweating, and other physical reactions to stimuli. It is the combination of the results from N and E that are used to come up with the personality assessment P (Eysenck & Eysenck, 2013). 

The EPQ has been useful to organizations that test potential employees for specialized jobs by gauging the suitability of their temperance within the parameters of their prospective duties (Eysenck & Eysenck, 2013). Psychologists have also used it when conducting counseling to assess whether the attribute being handled is derived from the individual’s biological characteristics or learned. They have also used this assessment method when conducting diagnosis to enable determination of the treatment regimen. EPQ may be valid for confirming and ruling out the biological causes of a certain behavior but not in full psychological personality assessment (Miserandino, 2011). 

EPQ is only limited to biological factors to wit physiognomy and genetics yet psychological behavior is derived from a myriad other reasons. It is on this very ground that the reliability of the EPQ is indicted due to its limited scope (Briley & Tucker-Drob, 2014). A reliable personality assessment inventory or apparatus must test all probable parameters. However, EPQ is accurate enough within the confines of its parameters, hence utilized in psychiatric diagnosis on a clinical setup (Miserandino, 2011). 

There are many similarities and distinctions between the EPQ and the NEO PI-R derived from the individual nature, uses, benefits and drawbacks. From their nature, both methods are premised on a questionnaire based inventory which can be filled by the individual being tested or the professional conducting the test. They are, therefore, both simple and straight forward. Secondly, they have a specific set or specialized questions, 100 for the full version of EPQ and 240 for the NEO PI-R (Miserandino, 2011). 

They however, vary such that the EPQ looks at the source of the aspects of the individual’s personality to wit genetic inheritance and physiognomy. It is, therefore, about the entirety of an individual from birth to death. On the other hand, NEO PI-R gauges the current personality of the individual by analyzing current character traits. This implies that it combines all the elements tested by the EPQ with the cognitively acquired derivatives to test what the individual has become. Therefore, the NEO PI-R has a larger scope but the EPQ is more accurate and predictive (Miserandino, 2011). 

From the perspective of utilization, the NEO PI-R is more useful for current and near future uses such as counseling and treatment. Its predictive capabilities are limited by the fact that its result will be changed by the character transformation through passage of time and the external environmental factors such as riches or poverty and internal environmental factors such as terminal diseases. EPQ can be used both for short term and long term uses as the tests results are unlikely to change. Apart from the psychological and psychiatric tests, it can be used when hiring employees to determine their future performance as opposed to NEO PI-R which can only test current suitability (Briley & Tucker-Drob, 2014; Bregman, 2015)

An individual’s personality informs their conduct through behavior. It is important for an individual to clearly identify the particulars of their personality to have a deeper understanding of the self and even for personal growth. This is the main benefit of NEO PI-R. Further, when the individual wants to understand if their personality is biologically premised, this can be achieved through the EPQ. Both the EPQ and the NEO PI-R like all psychologically based operations suffer the drawback of accuracy. Even the EPQ which may be accurate in arriving at the biological attributes of E and N, the psychological attribute of P will still face the same drawback of inaccuracy. The second mutual drawback is reliability as the accuracy of the tests is premised on the honesty of the answers set forth. The two are however, useful contemporary tools for personality assessment. 


APA. (2016).  Personality assessment . Retrieved from <http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/personality.aspx/> 

Bregman, P. (2015). Employees can’t be summed up by a personality test. Harvard Business Review . Retrieved from <https://hbr.org/2015/08/employees-cant-be-summed-up-by-a-personality-test/> 

Briley, D. A., & Tucker-Drob, E. M. (2014). Genetic and environmental continuity in personality development: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 140 (5), 1303-1331. doi: 10.1037/a0037091. 

Costa Jr., P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (2007). NEO-PI-R. NEO personality inventory. Hogrefe Testsystem 4. Retrieved from <http://www.unifr.ch/ztd/HTS/inftest/WEB-Informationssystem/en/4en001/d590668ef5a34f17908121d3edf2d1dc/hb.htm/> 

Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, S. B. (2013). Personality structure and measurement (Psychology Revivals). London: Routledge. 

Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, S. B. G. (1975). Manual of the Eysenck personality questionnaire (junior and adult). Kent, UK: Hodder & Stoughton 

Judge, T. A., Rodell, J. B., Klinger, R. L., Simon, L. S., & Crawford, E. R. (2013). Hierarchical representations of the five-factor model of personality in predicting job performance: integrating three organizing frameworks with two theoretical perspectives. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98 (6), 875-925. doi: 10.1037/a0033901 

Lewis, C. A., & Musharraf, S. (2014). The short form Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQR-S) and the revised abbreviated Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQR-A): Urdu translations. Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, 64 (2), 225-60. 

Miserandino, M. (2007). Heeeere’s Johnny: A case study in the Five factor model of personality. Teaching of Psychology, 34 (1), 37–40. doi:10.1080/00986280709336648 

Miserandino, M. (2011).  Personality psychology: Foundations and findings  (1st ed.). Boston: Pearson College Div. 

Piedmont, R. L. (2001).  Test review: The NEO PI-R. Retrieved from AACE, <http://aac.ncat.edu/newsnotes/y97fall.html/> 

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