By David Watson
Basic Types of Objective Tests
Other Ways of Classifying Objective Tests
Breadth of the target characteristics
Projective and Implicit Tests
Behavioral and Performance Measures
- Big Five
- Five, broad general traits that are included in many prominent models of personality. The five traits are neuroticism (those high on this trait are prone to feeling sad, worried, anxious, and dissatisfied with themselves), extraversion (high scorers are friendly, assertive, outgoing, cheerful, and energetic), openness to experience (those high on this trait are tolerant, intellectually curious, imaginative, and artistic), agreeableness (high scorers are polite, considerate, cooperative, honest, and trusting), and conscientiousness (those high on this trait are responsible, cautious, organized, disciplined, and achievement-oriented).
- High-stakes testing
- Settings in which test scores are used to make important decisions about individuals. For example, test scores may be used to determine which individuals are admitted into a college or graduate school, or who should be hired for a job. Tests also are used in forensic settings to help determine whether a person is competent to stand trial or fits the legal definition of sanity.
- Honeymoon effect
- The tendency for newly married individuals to rate their spouses in an unrealistically positive manner. This represents a specific manifestation of the letter of recommendation effect when applied to ratings made by current romantic partners. Moreover, it illustrates the very important role played by relationship satisfaction in ratings made by romantic partners: As marital satisfaction declines (i.e., when the “honeymoon is over”), this effect disappears.
- Implicit motives
- These are goals that are important to a person, but that he/she cannot consciously express. Because the individual cannot verbalize these goals directly, they cannot be easily assessed via self-report. However, they can be measured using projective devices such as the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).
- Letter of recommendation effect
- The general tendency for informants in personality studies to rate others in an unrealistically positive manner. This tendency is due a pervasive bias in personality assessment: In the large majority of published studies, informants are individuals who like the person they are rating (e.g., they often are friends or family members) and, therefore, are motivated to depict them in a socially desirable way. The term reflects a similar tendency for academic letters of recommendation to be overly positive and to present the referent in an unrealistically desirable manner.
- Projective hypothesis
- The theory that when people are confronted with ambiguous stimuli (that is, stimuli that can be interpreted in more than one way), their responses will be influenced by their unconscious thoughts, needs, wishes, and impulses. This, in turn, is based on the Freudian notion of projection, which is the idea that people attribute their own undesirable/unacceptable characteristics to other people or objects.
- Reference group effect
- The tendency of people to base their self-concept on comparisons with others. For example, if your friends tend to be very smart and successful, you may come to see yourself as less intelligent and successful than you actually are. Informants also are prone to these types of effects. For instance, the sibling contrast effect refers to the tendency of parents to exaggerate the true extent of differences between their children.
- The consistency of test scores across repeated assessments. For example, test-retest reliability examines the extent to which scores change over time.
- Self-enhancement bias
- The tendency for people to see and/or present themselves in an overly favorable way. This tendency can take two basic forms: defensiveness (when individuals actually believe they are better than they really are) and impression management (when people intentionally distort their responses to try to convince others that they are better than they really are). Informants also can show enhancement biases. The general form of this bias has been called the letter-of-recommendation effect, which is the tendency of informants who like the person they are rating (e.g., friends, relatives, romantic partners) to describe them in an overly favorable way. In the case of newlyweds, this tendency has been termed the honeymoon effect.
- Sibling contrast effect
- The tendency of parents to use their perceptions of all of their children as a frame of reference for rating the characteristics of each of them. For example, suppose that a mother has three children; two of these children are very sociable and outgoing, whereas the third is relatively average in sociability. Because of operation of this effect, the mother will rate this third child as less sociable and outgoing than he/she actually is. More generally, this effect causes parents to exaggerate the true extent of differences between their children. This effect represents a specific manifestation of the more general reference group effect when applied to ratings made by parents.
- Evidence related to the interpretation and use of test scores. A particularly important type of evidence is criterion validity, which involves the ability of a test to predict theoretically relevant outcomes. For example, a presumed measure of conscientiousness should be related to academic achievement (such as overall grade point average).