Psychologists now will agree that social factors are the most important in shaping our personality traits. The members of the family, playmates, school and class-fellows, society at large all these in a way determine and influence his personality.
(a) Home Atmosphere
Fundamental patterns of personality are formed during childhood. A congenial home atmosphere, with good relations between the parents and the child, is essential for a well-adjusted personality to develop.
If parents provide a stimulating environment and a great degree of freedom, children will grow into strong, independent and self-reliant individuals.
If, on the other hand, they are domineering and strict, children will be timid, lacking initiative and self-confidence. Over affectionate parents make children too dependent and over strict ones make them too timid or too rebellious. Similarly disrupted homes often produce unstable, badly-adjusted personalities.
The child has close emotional tie to each parent. Hence their quarrels cause serious conflict in his personality the position of the child in the family has much to do with the pattern of his personality.
The only child, the youngest child, the adopted child, the favorite child, the only son in a family of daughters or the only daughter in the family of sons-grows differently and develops emotional attitudes which make a difference to his or her personality.
For example, the only child is likely to be pampered or over-protected. The parents give him extra protection and love and unknowingly teach him to expect more from the social environment. The child grows self-centred, obstinate and less co-operative.
(b) School Atmosphere
The share and responsibility of the school in forming the personality of the child is equally important. The school makes the man in more than one way.
It gives him more knowledge, more opportunities to think and reason and a broader outlook on life. It helps the emotional development, cultivates tastes and attitudes and offers material for building up ideals and aims in life. The schools of today have realised that mere instruction is not enough.
They are providing opportunities for social competitive and co-operative work and experience. N.C.C., A.C.C., scouting games, social service leagues, co-operative stores, school banks, art clubs, hobbies, trips and the like give opportunities to the growing young people to dominate over some and yield to others, to play the role of leaders and followers as the occasion demands.
The various methods of assessment of Personality
Assessment of Personality
The following methods and devices are used to measure personality and its various traits:
(1) Observation Method
The experimenter has simply to observe the behaviour of the individual. If he finds that good traits are present in his behaviour, he tries to know to what degree they are present in him.
Thorndike’s studies are famous in this line. To get one index of leadership, for example, we could merely count the number of elective positions which a student has held.
This device needs much time and is liable to error.
(2) Interview Method
For information which cannot be obtained through observation, investigators make great use of the interview. In such an interview, of course, the experimenter may use many supplementary devices.
Used by trained and judicious, inquirer it can bring to light information which could be obtained in no other way. He may rely largely on rather simple discussion, basing his estimate on the answers to his questions and on the information volunteered by the person being interviewed.
The informal interview, of course, is no device for the untrained inquirer. He may miss much that is significant and may mis-interpret a good deal of what he observes. Secondly, the informal interview owes not yield a quantitative score.
(3) Personality Questionnaire of Inventory
Personality frequently is measured by questionnaires. Woodworth devised a “personal date sheet” in 1918, to determine emotional instability among soldiers. It had 116 questions, each to be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
A variation of the personality questionnaire is Sidney Pressey’s Crossout test” to measure emotionality. On a long list of words the subject is asked to cross out those unpleasant to him; on another list those he considers wrong or unethical; on other items about which he worries. This test is generally used to get information about a person’s emotions.
There are, of course, many objections to the questionnaires. The person taking the test may see through the questions and check the answer which he thinks will give him a good score rather than the answer which regards as true.
(4) Performance Tests
Obviously persons may answer questionnaires wrongly or dishonestly and there lies a serious weakness of this kind of test. To avoid such errors, performance and behaviour tests are often used. It is possible to put a student in a test situation and to see how he actually performs.
It is possible, for instance, to give him a test in which he has an opportunity to cheat and to determine whether or not he overcomes the temptation. He could copy from a neighbor’s paper, change answers when scoring their own tests, ‘peep’ in a blind-fold game. Other situations tested stealing and lying impulses. Other performance tests are also used.
All port and Vernon show that handwriting and other expressive behaviour like walking and reading, speed or ability to estimate areas and distances, show rather consistent personality patterns. Yet there is no evidence that anyone expressive movement, or in fact all of them together, relate very closely to personality traits.
(5) Projective Techniques
Most of the measuring devices discussed so far are designed to cast light not on the integrated personality but on various isolated traits of personality. Now we will discuss those tests which reveal an integrated pattern of personality. Prominent among these are the so-called projective techniques.
Meaning of Projective Techniques
This title is derived from projection, meaning reflection of one’s own inner-self upon the external objects. Freud first used this word. According to him perception of the outer world is determined largely by the feelings, desires, fears, thoughts and ideas of the inner world which is unknown. This is based on depth psychology or the psychology of the unconscious.
According to it the quality of personality is much affected by the unconscious motives and emotions. To test the whole personality we must have technique to measure this unconscious. Projective technique makes this possible.
Through this technique is let out the hidden quality of the personality. This tells us as to what lies at the back of our conscious behaviour. When a person tells what a cloud looks like to him, or gives him his own interpretation of a picture containing people, he ‘projects’ into it something of his own personality.
If he interprets several items in the same general way, this may reveal important trends of his thinking, attitude, interest and emotion.
Following are the devices used in projective technique:
(1) Dream Analysis
Dreams, according to Freud, are wishful- filling. The repressed wishes of the individual come in a disguised form in dreams. Thus the analysis of the dreams of the individual reveals the type he is.
(2) Free Association
You give a casual word to the individual and ask him to give out all those words which come to his mind. A why this chain of words will help us to assess his personality
(3) Story Completion
An incomplete story is given to the individual and he is asked to complete the story in any manner he deems fit.
(4) Story telling
The individual is asked to narrate stories which have been of special interest to him. This device is used to elicit the hidden and unconscious whishes, ambitions, fears, judge-
(5) Expressive Movement Tests
This is a technique to judge personality through:
(a) The handwriting of the individual,
(c) Picture completion test.
(6) Visual Tests
Out of the projective techniques the best known is the “ink blot test”. The ‘ink-blot test’ was prepared by a Swiss Psychiatrist Herman Rorschach. It consists of ten cards, each containing a rater elaborate ink-blot.
Five blots are in color, five in grey and black. Those ink-blots are made by dropping some ink in the fold of a paper and squeezing the paper together.
These blots suggest various pictures to different people, and since one is free to see almost anything in them, the reaction is supposed to indicate tendencies in the person. Subjects study one blot at a time and tell what each resembles.
They can think as long as they like over each card. The examiner records their responses, and then shows the card a second time asking the subjects to elaborate ambiguous interpretations and explain which parts of the ink-blots led to their responses.
Results are scored by three main criteria:
(a) Do subjects react to the whole blot, to a part or to a small detail?
(b) Do their responses involve movement, from color or the three combined and is the form clear or blurred?
(c) Do subjects see human or animal figures or chiefly inanimate objects?
The complete scoring is quite complex, involving many factors beyond mere counting of responses. Seeing whole figures indicates high intelligence and ability to synthesize.
A predominance of forms in motion, especially of human forms signifies vivid imagination. Great response to color means impulsiveness, if not emotional instability. Setting mostly animals and giving unoriginal responses in general, suggest lower intelligence. On the other hand, noting small unusual details indicates introversion and possible emotional conflicts.
A method somewhat similar to the ‘ink-blot test’ is the “Thematic apperception Technique”. In this method, the subject is shown a picture, for instance, of an older man taking hold of the arm of a startled woman.
The subject is told that this is a test of the fertility of his imagination. He is asked to give a story into which the picture would fit the resulting story is supposed to give some insight into the hopes, fears and needs of the subjects.
Limitations of the Projective Technique
1. There is a great dearth of standardized test.
2. These tests are to be administered with great care and that also by an expert. Everybody cannot use them.
3. They are more subjective. Scoring is difficult and exacting and interpretation is exceedingly complex.
4. There is no proof of their validity. Henry A. Murray of Harvard, himself the creator of several new projective methods, says that their validity is demonstrated with children but some doubts remain about adults.
There are many other psychologists who say that these tests lack objectivity and their interpretation is without experimental verification. They feel that the validity of these tests is not yet established for normal persons.