personality inventory

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Related to personality inventories: MMPI

personality inventory

a profile of an individual's personality traits. Such profiles are usually constructed by asking subjects a series of questions about their behaviour in various situations and about their character. From these responses a profile or inventory of characteristics in key personality areas can be constructed. For example, a profile of an individual's degree of confidence, thought-fulness, consideration for others etc. can be built up. In theory, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions asked but this is not always the case in practice. Inventories of this sort have been popular of late in RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION, especially of managerial employees. This reflects an emphasis on the importance of leadership qualities and an implicit belief that they are in part innate and not acquired. However, inventories of this sort can be flawed in a number of ways, hence their use as predictors of future performance is questionable:
  1. subjects can often discern the answers desired by the selectors;
  2. the presence of certain personality characteristics implied by certain answers may be dubious; for instance, ‘lack of confidence’ cannot be straightforwardly derived from a response such as ‘I have not felt able to say anything at recent seminars’; it may have reflected an awareness that one's knowledge of the seminar topic was decidedly limited;
  3. the qualities seen as desirable by selectors (for example confidence) may not in fact be beneficial in actual work situations.

Despite these flaws the apparent insight the profile gives into the personality and characteristics of job applicants will ensure its continued popularity. See PSYCHOLOGICAL TEST.

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