Individual Difference Research Project
There has been advanced research in the development of parameters in psychology that measure various personality traits such as conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, neuroticism and aggressiveness (Eggen, 1999). However, there have been little research in evaluating and testing more complex traits namely submissiveness, moral absolutism and perfectionism. The study attempts to develop a questionnaire that looks into the three complex personality traits. It develops questions that measure the traits, giving a method that show the relationship between each question and the traits that the individual is most likely to have. It evaluates the effectiveness of the questionnaire and whether it can be applied in personality testing. It uses quantitative methods and factor analysis in evaluating the questionnaire. After evaluating the viability of the questionnaire, the study makes recommendations for future research, describing whether such an evaluation can be used for general personality assessment.
Over the years, psychologists have developed questionnaires that assist people in determining their personality traits. The questions are set to elicit a specific kind of response from a person based on their perceptions on different issues as well as how likely they are to behave in different situations. The most common types of personality tests include the Seven Factor Personality Questionnaire, the Revised NEO Personality Inventory as well as the Woodsworth Personal Data Sheet as well as the Myers Briggs’ personality test (First & Taylor, 2007). Each of the questionnaires enables self-inventory, such that a person is able to answer the questions based on how they feel on a specific issue. According to Poropat (2012), after answering the questions, the tabulated data makes it easier to determine the personality traits, based on the relationship between the questions. The answers in each question are all connected to give a specific trait (Hines, 2003). The responses that the individual give are analyzed to show specific characteristics. Some of the adjectives that psychologists have researched on include conscientiousness, being an extrovert or introvert, behaving based on experience, aggressiveness and neuroticism (Pietense et al, 2010). They are some of the areas where advanced research has been carried out and questionnaires developed to differentiate between various personalities with proper tools to define each characteristic.
With advancement in psychological research, however, there are other personality traits that are yet to have sufficient tools to define the associated behavior and emotion (Roberts & Delvechio, 2000). Such tools present a challenge in identifying the appropriate question whose answer can be linked to the personality trait (McGhee, 2008). They include perfectionism, moral absolutism and submissiveness. The three traits lack a proper methodology of assessment, since there are various factors that the psychologist has to consider (Zuckerman, 2007). When evaluating perfectionism, for example, the psychologist has to consider whether the individual plans ahead for all the daily activities (Gosling, 2001). The questionnaire must also inquire whether the person seeks to perform their tasks to perfection or is keen only on completing a specific activity. Perfectionism also looks into the emotion elicited when an activity is done to one’s level best or the desired outcome is achieved, according to Ones (2009). The person possessing the trait will be happy when he or she is able to complete the task on time and does it based on the required quality (Simpson, 2005). When developing the questionnaire, such questions must be present as they assess the factors necessary to evaluate individual behavior and how perfect the wish to complete a task or plan ahead to schedule all activities.
Moral absolutism is also uncommon factor personality tests. It refers to a trait whereby the individual has a critical view whether an action is either morally right or wrong. Karon (2000) asserts that a person with this personality trait is able to identify the morally right or wrong behavior based on various justifications such as religion, philosophy, social norms or other methodologies (Irbina, 2014). An individual with absolutism has a given characteristic that they identify specific as being either good or bad regardless of the objective (Karon, 2000). For example, stealing can be termed as an immoral action regardless of whether it is for the well-being of others, such as taking food from a wealthy household and giving it to the poor (Boyle et al, 2015). When creating a questionnaire to determine moral absolutism, the researcher should consider questions that may have a differing answer to people (Olivola & Todolov, 2010). For example, one may inquire whether killing is justified for a soldier, given that the individual is facing other enemies in the battlefield or defending innocent civilians. A person with moral absolutism will strongly agree that such an action is not justified in any circumstance. (Mischel & Shoda, 2008) The trait is difficult to identify as various questions may have differing answers based on the circumstances or the consequences of one’s actions (Andrew et al, 2011). Therefore, the questionnaire should come up with questions that elicit a specific emotion and one that does not have a definite moral answer as demonstrated in a study by Ashton (2017). It assists in differentiating the personality trait that different individuals possess based on whether they agree on such controversial matters in the society.
The third personality trait under submissiveness, which is a complex personality trait as it encompasses various levels of behavior. According to Hunsley et al. (2003) may be that one individual may submit to an authority figure but not among his or her peers (Hunsley et al, 2003). It may also be that another person is submissive to all people regardless of their authority or level of control. In assessing submissiveness, the questionnaire should inquire whether the person is ready to act based on instructions, commands or simple will (Graham, 2006). The questions should be such that they evaluate the ability of the individual to follow instructions or commands without being pushed or forced to carry out the actions (Goldman et al, 2006). The three personality traits have been missing in previous questionnaires and tests since they present a wide range of questions, which should be specifically formulated to suit the emotions and behavior that the individuals may possess (Terracciano et al, 2006). They are unique in that they do not have an absolute method of testing or evaluation and may be difficult to examine (Rule & Albady, 2010). Psychologists have continued to carry out research on whether the methods applied in assessing such complex traits are accurate as well as the effectiveness of the questionnaires in showing the relationship between various forms of behavior in each trait.
Research Rationale and Hypothesis
The objective of the research is to evaluate whether the questionnaire that has been provided is effective in testing the three personality traits, namely moral absolutism, perfectionism and submissiveness. The research seeks to look into each of the questions provided in the questionnaire and how it relates to each of the traits being tested. The behavior associated with each trait is obtained from the literature review, which defines the variables required to ascertain that the individual possesses or lacks the personality. Data analysis shows how each question correlates to the other. It seeks to establish whether the data collected can be used to exclusively state whether the person has the trait based on how they answer the questions. The relationship between each question is evaluated using the DSM-5 criteria, which shows the extent to which a person agrees or disagrees with a specific proposition (Ashton, 2017). The propositions set a baseline for the personality test as they indicate the person’s behavior and how they are likely to react to different scenarios that they face each day. Data analysis shows whether the questionnaire is effective by looking at the relationship between the questions, evaluating whether it can be a successful assessment tool.
Based on the research rationale and objectives, the study is based on the null the hypothesis that “the questionnaire is ideal in testing the complex personality traits.” The alternative hypothesis is that “the questionnaire is not ideal for testing the complex personality traits.” The research uses quantitative methods to test the hypothesis. The methods used are correlation, commonality and factor analysis, evaluating the relationship between each question and how they relate to the personality traits being assessed. Accepting the null hypothesis means that the questionnaire can be used for future personality tests while the alternative hypothesis means that there is need for future research to come up with an effective measuring tool (Solomon, 1991).