Resolving the conflict of Reliability vs. Accuracy in the 16 PF test Introduction: For psychologists, one of the more popular theories espoused is the trait approach to personality, or "the idea that people have consistent personality characteristics that can be measured and studied" (Kalat, 2002,512). However there are several problems that arise. First, there are significant cross-cultural differences, so one set of personality traits for one culture may differ considerably for another. The next problem would concern the creation of a test that could accurately measure these traits. While psychologists have for the most part addressed these issues, I will focus on the latter of the two. There has been a number of multiple personality tests put to use such as the Minnesota Multi phasic Personality Inventory (MMP I), the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), the Rorschach Inkblots and others.

In our class we were instructed to take the 16 PF personality test in which we would judge for ourselves how accurate the test was based on our own personal experiences. In judging the usefulness of this test we took into consideration its reliability and validity. For a test to be reliable it must be able to accurately reflect consistent results for various people that can be agreed upon by researchers and therapists alike. Reliability in turn relates to validity. To be valid a test must be dependable producing data that can be used to detect a mental illness or otherwise certain personality dimensions within psychologically healthy individuals.

Furthermore personality tests must be standardized, having data capable of being "interpreted in a prescribed fashion" (Kalat, 2002,528). These standards are based on a comparison of a large number of people who have taken the test, one group with a particular disorder and another group who consist of the normal range. These allow researchers to identify people who score within a certain range to be more typical of a particular disorder. While the 16 PF personality test meets these criteria, whether or not the test is accurate remains to be explored.

Within the next couple of pages I will describe the results of the test and discuss whether or not the data is an accurate reflection of my own personality. Discussion and Interpretation of Scores: While the 16 PF personality test measured the strength of 18 factors, there were only 10 of which we were provided with useful information to interpret. Overall, I believe that the test was fairly accurate in measuring certain factors of my personality so much so that it was difficult for me to find certain factors that I did not agree with. However there were two factors, E (dominance) and Q 1 (rebelliousness), which I believe were a bit overrated in myself.

Aside from these the test seemed to adequately define facets of my personality. For "warmth" (factor A) my sten score read 4, indicating that I am slightly more reserved and critical that easygoing and good-natured. I scored a 7 in "ego strength" (factor C), classifying me as more stable and emotionally mature and less emotional and changeable in attitudes. In dominance (factor E) my sten score read 8, meaning I am more assertive, competitive and stubborn rather than submissive, dependent and humble. I received an average score of 5 in "impulsivity" (factor F) indicating a slightly more serious and sober approach to the world over the cheerful and enthusiastic view. As for "boldness" (factor H), I received a sten score of 4 signifying a more shy and restrained approach to things as opposed to an adventurous genial one.

I received a median score of 5 for "emotional sensitivity" (factor I) demonstrating my slightly more tough-minded and self-reliant view in contrast to a sensitive insecure one. For "imagination" (factor M) a score of 8, indicating that I am more imaginative, unconventional and absorbed in ideas and am less so for practicality and the prosaic. Factor N measured "shrewdness", and I received a sten score of 7, which is indicative of being emotionally detached and astute. I also received a score of 10 for "rebelliousness" (factor Q 1) indicating a highly radical and liberal way of thinking. Lastly I scored 8 for "self sufficiency" (factor Q 2) demonstrating resourcefulness.

These purported measures of certain facets of my personality were based upon the standardized interpretations of the test. According to these interpretations I scored an average score in only impulsivity and emotional sensitivity. I scored above average in ego strength, dominance, imagination, shrewdness, rebelliousness, and self-sufficiency. And I scored below average in warmth and boldness.

In Relation to My Experiences: Aforementioned I do believe the test accurately measured most aspects of my personality correctly. One factor that I definitely agree with would have to be ego strength (factor C). My sten score of 7 is above average and indicates that I am emotionally stable, mature and that I face reality. Many of my friends have told me that I largely remain unaffected by feelings; they never see me get upset or lose control of my emotions. I also see myself as fairly stable and constant in interests. A second area in which I believed the test accurately measured would be imagination (factor M).

My sten score of 8 is relatively high, meaning I have an unconventional, bohemian, and absent-minded approach to things. This also indicates that I am fanciful, easily seduce from practical judgment, absorbed in ideas, and interested in art, theory, and basic beliefs, characteristics that I believe are indicative of myself. I often daydream and can often be seen absorbed in abstract ideas. I also tend to avoid the practical and am enthralled by inner creations and ideas that I consider to be equally original. This is also evident in the television shows I watch; I tend to ignore more common sitcoms in favor of more imaginative shows like Star Trek, Smallville, or even various cartoon shows. I am also willing to take risks for the sake of originality, even if people tell me not to take the risk.

One disadvantage however is that I often lack down to earth concerns; I'd rather think of the imaginative and abstract rather than focus on the worldly. While I believe the test to be accurate for the most part, there were two factors, which I believe did not accurately depict my personality. One of these factors was Q 1, which measured rebelliousness. I received a relatively high sten score of 10, the farthest deviation from the average out of all my other scores. This basically states that I am extremely radical and liberal. While I do harbor some liberal thinking and sometimes favor a fresh approach to things, I do not consider myself a radical thinker or overtly rebellious.

For most of my life I have respected notions of authority even while I may not agree with them, and aside from a few moving violations, I have never broken the law. While I tend to dislike the notion of mainstream culture, I still embrace it along with more non-conventional ideas. Instead of ignoring the mainstream or totally embracing the non-conventional I merely strive to get the best of both worlds. Another example of a measured factor that I believe did not accurately portray a certain feature of my personality would be factor E, or the measure of dominance.

My sten score of 8 indicates a highly assertive, stern, hostile and headstrong personality. However this highly conflicts with factor C and H, which measured ego strength and boldness. According to those scores, I should be emotionally stable, shy and reserved. However the dominance factor seems to contradicts these indicating that I am more aggressive and stubborn.

I do not rush in headstrong into just any situation; I often contemplate how others would think of me and am preoccupied with finding the right "opportunity" to say something. I try to be humble at times and will conform if the situation forces me to. While I do not consider myself submissive and dependent, I do tend to be considerate and diplomatic, trying to be a little open minded to another person's feelings and thoughts. Whenever there's a heated argument between my friends I'm usually the one asked to step in and resolve the dilemma, though I tend to shy away until asked to.