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Personality Inventories

October 9, 2019


NARRATOR: IN RECENT YEARS,
PERSONALITY INVENTORIES HAVE BECOME AN INCREASINGLY COMMON
ASSESSMENT TOOL, WHETHER YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT
PILOT TO TEST A NEW AIRCRAFT DESIGN OR LOOKING FOR A DATE. THE HISTORY PERSONALITY AND
ASSESSMENT OF PERSONALITY GOES BACK TO THE PHRENOLOGISTS, THOSE
PEOPLE WHO WOULD LOOK AT THE BUMPS AND RIDGES IN THE
SKULL AND SAY, THESE ARE RELATED TO DIFFERENT
CHARACTERISTICS. THE IDEA OF PERSONALITY GOES
BACK AT LEAST AS FAR AS THE GREEKS, WITH THE FOUR HUMORS. THE REAL BEGINNING OF
PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT WITH ACTUAL INVENTORIES GREW OUT
OF THE ASSESSMENT OF INTELLIGENCE. NARRATOR: THE MOST EXTENSIVELY
RESEARCHED PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT TOOL, THE MINNESOTA
MULTIPHASIC PERSONALITY INVENTORY, WAS DEVELOPED JUST
AFTER WORLD WAR II. AND THAT’S STILL IN USE TODAY. IT’S BEEN REVISED. AND IT DOES A VERY, VERY GOOD
JOB OF GIVING A PORTRAIT OF SOMEONE IN A VARIETY OF
DIMENSIONS OF DIFFICULTY AND FUNCTIONING. NARRATOR: HARRISON GOUGH, A
PROFESSOR AT UC BERKELEY, USED SIMILAR TECHNIQUES IN ASSESSING
THE PERSONALITY OF THOSE WHO FUNCTION
MORE NORMALLY. HE SORT OF PIGGYBACKED ON WHAT
WE CALL THE ITEM POOL– ALL THOSE ITEMS, TRUE/FALSE, I
PREFER A SHOWER TO A BATH; TRUE/FALSE, LINCOLN WAS GREATER
THAN WASHINGTON; ALL THOSE KINDS OF ITEMS;
TRUE/FALSE, I AM TENSE ALL THE TIME, RELATIVELY STRAIGHTFORWARD
STATEMENTS– AND TOOK SOME OF THOSE AND
GENERATED THE CALIFORNIA PSYCHOLOGICAL INVENTORY. AND THERE ARE NOW A
SERIES OF THEM. THE KEY IDEA WAS, WHAT ARE THE
BASIC UNDERLYING DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY? I THINK BY ANY OF US KNOWING
WHAT OUR NATURAL TENDENCIES ARE, BUT THEN ALSO WHAT WE’RE
NATURALLY GOOD AT, SOME, REALLY, GIFTS AND ABILITIES, WE
THEN CAN PLOT A PLAN THAT ENABLES US TO GO FROM POINT A
TO POINT B. AND IT DOES MEAN WALKING THROUGH SOME
DISCOMFORT AND LETTING THAT BE OK. A REALLY WONDERFUL LESSON
THAT I LEARNED– I ACTUALLY LEARNED IT
ON THE SKI SLOPES– SOMEONE TOLD ME, I WAS
PROUD OF SKIING ALL DAY AND NEVER FALLING. AND THEY SAW IT AS A BIG
NEGATIVE AND SAYING, WELL, YOU WEREN’T PUSHING YOURSELF, AND
YOU WEREN’T TRYING NEW SLOPES IN A NEW DIFFICULTY,
OR WHATEVER. AND HE WAS RIGHT. I PICKED THE LEVEL OF SKIING
I COULD DO, AND THAT’S ALL I DID. AND IT REALLY SPOKE TO ME ABOUT
MY LIFE, THAT MY NATURAL TENDENCY IS TO TAKE
THE SAFE WAY. SO I THINK THAT’S A KEY, WHEN
YOU DO ANY OF THESE INVENTORIES AND ASSESSMENTS, IS
TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU THEN DON’T REST IN THAT AREA, BUT
THEN TAKE A STEP BACKWARDS AND TO SEE, WHAT DOES THIS
TELL ME ABOUT MYSELF? SOME OF THE DIMENSIONS NOW,
AFTER DECADES OF RESEARCH, APPEAR TO HAVE EMERGED OVER AND
OVER AGAIN AS MORE OR LESS FUNDAMENTAL WAYS OF SAYING HOW
YOU ARE DIFFERENT FROM ME. NOW, EVERYBODY HAS SOME PLACE ON
THE CONTINUUM, SO IT ISN’T LIKE IT’S NOT RELEVANT. THE QUESTION IS, CAN YOU PUT
TOGETHER THOSE DIMENSIONS AND COME UP WITH A PERSON’S
PERSONALITY? SOME WOULD SAY, YES, THAT’S
ALL THERE IS. MANY, MANY OTHERS WOULD SAY, NO,
THAT’S JUST THE COSTUME. THAT’S JUST THE PERSONA. AND IN FACT, THEY ARE TWO WORDS
IN GERMAN, PERSONA AND PERSONLICHKEIT, THAT REALLY TALK
ABOUT THESE TWO DIFFERENT PHENOMENA– ONE MORE OR LESS THE SOCIAL YOU
THAT PEOPLE SEE, AND THE INTERNAL YOU WHICH NO ONE SEES
AND WHICH YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT, AND WHICH NOW, PRETTY
CONVINCINGLY, WE KNOW EVEN YOU DON’T SEE SOME OF THE TIME,
THAT STUFF JUST HAPPENS OUTSIDE YOUR AWARENESS THAT IS
ACTUALLY QUITE IMPORTANT FOR THE PHENOMENON THAT WE TALK
ABOUT AS PERSONALITY.

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