Why psychological profiles cannot be relied upon for projections or even current assessments.
It is well known how the results of self-reporting psychological profiles depend on the honesty and self-awareness of the subject. Answers are often framed according to social desirability. Yet, questions designed to detect contradictions (lies) can be easily bypassed. In addition the scores are heavily affected by the age and cultural origin of the subject. Here are some additional issues that further explain why these subjective tests remain unreliable for projections or even for present assessments.|
How Questions in Psychological Profiles are ambiguous and too broad to be relevant
An article, Will the Real Introverts Please Stand Up? by Scott Barry Kaufman in Scientific American (June 9, 2014) explains why the terms Introversion and Extraversion have been so misunderstood even among psychologists.
Have you ever felt uncertain about what is being asked in a questionnaire? Have you felt that a number (1 to 5) fails to address the issue? Here, the author lists a set of 20 questions designed to identify introversion/extraversion. Next to each question (in bold) is a controversial and provocative answer from a reader using the handle of Robotics:
"These 20 items have been found to accurately capture these major aspects of the introversion-extraversion domain of personality. Rate each item from 1 (doesn't apply to me at all) to 5 (really applies to me):
- Make friends easily. When? After a few drinks?
- Am hard to get to know. When? When I'm drunk?
- Keep others at a distance. When? When I'm sick?
- Reveal little about myself? When? In a crowded elevator?
- Warm up quickly to others. When? At 6am when I'm trying to sleep?
- Rarely get caught up in the excitement. When? At a Korn concert?
- Am not a very enthusiastic person. When? About agreeing to government polices that favor polluting the environment?
- Show my feelings when I'm happy. When? When a Republican is shown to be bigot?
- Have a lot of fun? When? Playing Skyrim?
- Laugh a lot. When? At hearing a bigoted right-wing politician talk about equality for the rich?
- Take charge. When? When attempting to save a woman from a savage beating from a right-wing fascist bigot?
- Have a strong personality. What? What's a strong personality? Is that like strong 'body odour'?
- Lack the talent for influencing people. When? When trying to convince ignorant people that climate change is a reality?
- Know how to captivate people. When? When I can't tell jokes and sing in perfect pitch?
- Wait for others to lead the way. When? When trying to convince smokers that polluting the air (not to mention their lungs) is a bad thing to do?
- See myself as a good leader. What is good? What is a good leader?
- Can talk others into doing things. What things? Get drunk on the weekends? Watch pornography when you're not watching the football?
- Hold back my opinions. When? When it means I'll lose my job?
- Am the first to act. When? What does it mean 'to act'?
- Do not have an assertive personality. We still have not defined 'strong personality', and now you want a decision on whether I have an 'assertive personality'. When you define this, and 'personality', I might be able to make a comment. "
Character varies according to environment and context
Robotic's wry answers makes the point that character is contextual. For example, an individual can be extraverted in his work and introverted in a group. Psychologists naturally seek to reduce character into numbers that are easily measurable. However, there is no consensus about the nature of Extraversion and Introversion - possibly the most widely terms used by psychologists to differentiate between people. Even when there is some agreement, human character is too complex to be boxed into a limited number of nebulous typologies.
It may be that the astrological model is closer to reality. The house systems show where an individual expresses a part of their personality most effectively. So someone with Saturn in the 11th house my be introverted within social groups, but if the Sun is in the 10th house they may be extraverted in any formal or professional situation.
The lack of clarity about personality among psychologists will lead to a neurological definition
What is clear from the author is that there is no agreed definition of introversion or extraversion among psychologists. Jung's original observations are the most authoritative but still unclear. For example, Jung defined introversion as "inwardly directed psychic energy". Like Eysenck, Kaufman favours a definition of Extraversion which happens to be in accord with the nature of the astrological fire signs - while the air element falls between E+ and E-. Kaufman divides Extraversion into Enthusiasm which is slightly more Leonine/Solar and Assertiveness and seems to be closer to Mars and Aries.
My impression is that psychologists are fragmented on the whole problem of personality typologies. This will mean that they will seek an objective external measure. So character will ultimately be based on neurological activity in the brain. Psychologists, who may become a branch of neurology, will abandon our traditional terms like Extraversion or totally redefine them to fit the neurological evidence.
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