A fair share of Individual Difference

Nobody is of exactly the same personality as another. There may actually be some overlapping traits and even attitudes, but an individual is always unique in his or her personal and psychological make-up. These varying personalities are conveniently attributed to the difference in the environment, culture, and even genes. Include here the time element that could have changed the setting, which may have logically altered the development of personality despite the similarity in other aspects.

In a more applicable and illustrative discussion, it is but noticeable that there seems to be dynamism in any group, say in a team in a certain company. Such interaction is mainly due to the differences in personalities that may have either meshed so well, considering the complementing that occurs, or end up going in shambles as there seems to be no point of compromise or reconciliation. At extremes, a group may be pushed so well brought about by the competitiveness that is collectively held, or may be put down as can be explained by low self-esteem among individuals that going an extra mile is never a goal. Nevertheless, the idea of differing personalities is definitely an actual, whether it is in the workplace, the university, or simply in a group of friends.

In psychology, such personality variation is accurately yet variably measured by using different means. These may come in tests, surveys, instruments, inventories, or to make it stringently precise, experiments. The prime objective is to pinpoint and define an individual depending on the circumstance and applicability. Like for instance, a measure of personalities may well be evidenced by the inventories with which personality tests are employed. This usually happens in the workplace wherein an applicant is provided a long, repetitive test that will yield to just one, single result. Such result will be made a crucial factor in deciding whether or not to hire a candidate for a certain position in the company. Primarily, psychology has made it more palpable to most to definitely say what personality one has or otherwise.


Projective tests

A very interesting way to approach defining one’s personality is by employing tests that reflect the results based on the responses readily provided by the respondent. These may come in inkblot tests, drawings or graphology, or as simple as creating and recreating situations. The results are then collated to form one whole answer, which would make sense of the personality of the individual being put to test. But despite the attempts to objectify the results, there still seems to be questions on the undeniable subjectivity of the tests given that the rater or examiner is the sole judge to the responses.

Take for example, the drawing test. What is good about this is that the respondent is made to feel comfortable about the test, thereby making it easy to provide responses. In general, the drawing activity would let out the creativity and imagination of the individual. Whatever the respondent comes up with is interpreted based on the number of strokes, the lines, the round shapes, the propensity to draw figures in enclosures, which have crucial definition to how a person is to himself or herself, or others, and even the weight of putting objects in the space provided. Interestingly, the results are understandable, easily grasped, and even attractive to respondents. Some may be surprised by the interpretation; and others may be questioning. However, the point of coming up with an interpretation as though reading some tarot or fate-based explanation is “tasteful.” To me, at some point, it is correct. But with other aspects, it is rather less qualified. Examiners would justify this as being the manifestation of the subconscious, and this helps one or two realize personalities in their most general sense.

As a critique to this, first, there seems to be no accuracy in the results. One will question the reliability, given that such test may not yield the same and utterly exact results because despite the differences among individuals, there may still be similarities at one point that being the foundation of the said test. But the fact that questions and wonder arise there may still be problems with the test. Moreover, validity is also put into question. From my own perspective, I do think that not everyone is inclined to express well in drawings, in interpreting abstracted images, or come up with situations with just one plain sheet of paper. There are better means for an individual to let out that “personality variant” in the form of probably more objective and numeric tests.

Secondly, such test may actually lead to the vulnerability of one, eventually submitting to the inkblot test results. This may actual alter that way one lives every day. As opposed to living the way one feels and naturally responds, he or she is constricted by the way the drawings have been interpreted.

Lastly, because of the attractiveness the projective test possesses, thereby making it more believable to most, people interact with other people in a very different fashion. Since there is definition of one’s personality, one may actually be directed in a less “interactive” and “social” way. This then affects the way they live with others. Such enclosure of individuals may be detrimental in the long run for the individual himself or herself, as well as for the group.



As a more objective and numeric-based approach to personality assessment, certain paper-and-pencil tests have been formulated to be able define in a more stringently, accurate manner. The aim is to be definite about the constructs that will define personality in a holistic way. Several items and questions are to be answered or rated on a scale. Results will then yield an evaluation of the individual. The accuracy is rather more defined this time.

Jung’s Typology test is a good example. Though the responses are only binary (just between a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’), the results reflect most likely the individuals’ traits. The questions are rather applicable to most, thus increasing the validity of the said test. The scope of the items is general despite being itemized. What is also good about this test is its ubiquity as it scores at a range of percentages. Say, in the case of evaluating an individual on the basis of the desire to be with people (thus the option between extroversion and introversion), and if one is assessed as introvert, there is no totality in it.  A certain percentage is yielded depending on the responses. The higher the percentage, the more introverted the person is, and the lower it is, the less likely the person is introverted. This just explains that the more middle-ranging the percentage is the more balanced the individual, thus the stability of personality. This actually works in a general sense given that nothing is swept aside in terms of the traits upheld. Everything is grey, and thus, the gradient quality of the test makes it very applicable to most.

Such tests are effective in guessing a person’s psychological disposition. These make them popular in human resources organizations or firms that employ numerically calculated tests that will be made hard and concrete proof in hiring or otherwise. In instances where there is grievance or defiance at work, such test may actually be used as hard evidence for termination. These tests may also be used in other organizations.  The accuracy itself is the strength.

In my case, surprisingly, the test reflects most likely my personality. Despite a few grey areas and inaccuracies, I still think the test is rather a guide to one’s understanding of self, which may actually have been obscured by experiences, encounters, and a few psychological changes. What I can critique though on this is the stringency of it despite the wider scope in determining the many personalities. Like in the case of determining one’s ability to sense, one can either just be practical or just be freer in deciding. But it couldn’t tell if a person has the propensity to be both. Such construct is somehow set aside. This then leads to a rather more constricting consequence.

As a consequence, an individual may confine and limit the self within the constructs being dictated upon him or her by the test. Though it is highly encouraged to work on what trait is not acquired, individuals tend to rely in and settle for what the test has yielded. This may have an effect on how people interact with the rest whether in the workplace or just with a few friends and colleagues. In the end, the test has its own flaws despite the reliability and validity.


The human experience

The differences in personality are brought about by different factors. In any given social setting, anything can happen within the interactive sphere. One can get into conflict with some people, or simply get along well. Others may prefer to sit alone, while some find it really annoying. Though some organizations or even just groups impose some kind of culture, it is still inevitable to see variations among individuals. To aid in understanding and sustaining certain group environments, psychological tests and inventories come handy.

The tests make things fair and relative. For managers and heads of organizations, it is more of an aiding instrument to carry on tasks and operations because nobody is the same as the rest, and as opposed to imposing a standard, one gets to interpolate and iron the crease, say in conflict management at work. The tests come as some enlightenment to most; and such aiding element is making them usable in all aspects and in many settings because they generally apply to people and groups of people.

Also, these tests provide an opportunity to an individual to work on something about his or her own to be able to work out the best in him or her, or with a group of people. It is more of the broadening aspect of tests that make it good for people. One can get to feel how it is like to mingle with so many people. Some may experience the emotiveness of being a human despite being rigid and practical. Despite the potential confining and limiting factors in these tests, since an individual works in a community and organization, there is the propensity to push, not for the benefit of the collective whole, but simply to enrich oneself.

Despite my belief that these tests may accurately tell who an individual is, I take into account the ability of one to experience. Many tests and inventories may provide answers and guide, but the most important act is to experience. One has to realize the differences are rather not absolute. They may change in time. One has to understand that though these tests seemingly provide really good and hard answers, the personal and relational experience is more viable in understanding human beings, the self, and the self in interaction with the rest. It takes an individual to immerse into the actual to realize and understand what is going on, with people most especially.


Photo Credit: [www.spring.org.uk, Featured photo: coachingpositiveperformance.com]


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