Measures of Emotional and Behavioral Functioning


Objective personality tests draw their meaning from the word “objective.” This simply means that these tests can be scored objectively. In simple terms, scoring in these tests does not call for either professional training or any form of judgment. As opposed to projective personality measures that call for some judgment in scoring, the nature of the response format is the defining characteristic of objective personality tests. According to Cattell and Kline (1977), “objective personality tests present to the subject test taker questions or statements which he or she is required to answer by choosing among a group of alternative answers.” In the areas of personality and vocational interest testing, an objective personality test is often referred to as an inventory.

Major Uses of Objective Personality Tests-Clinical

Whereas objective personality tests have a long tradition in psychological measurement, there are four uses of these types of tests. These include clinical, counseling, personnel selection, and research. According to Cattell and Kline (1977), “clinical psychologists use objective personality tests to provide a standardized assessment of personality traits and characteristics.” These form the hallmark of gaining deeper insights into characteristics and personality traits that define an individual. In fact, the application of these forms of psychological measurements by clinical psychologists is the main reason behind their wide usage in various personality tests. Whereas there are many different sources that may provide a clinician with information regarding the personality of an individual, data retrieved from clinical testing forms a fundamental basis through which a deeper understanding of an individual’s personality and characteristics may be anchored upon.

Furthermore, forensic psychology falls under the clinical usage of objective personality tests. Forensic in this context refers to any application of these tests on legal proceedings. A number of cases in which forensic use of objective personality tests have been witnessed within the legal circles. For example, a judge may request for a personality evaluation of an individual to determine if he or she is fit to stand trial. The second subcategory of clinical use of objective personality tests is the neuropsychological assessment. This type of assessment is carried out to determine the degree of impairment of a certain skill following a neurological illness. In clinical evaluation, this assessment focuses on the need to gain insight into the pattern of cognitive strengths and challenges an individual may experience. These are critical information needed in making sound decisions in medical environments.


The second application of objective personality tests is in counseling. One important objective of objective personality tests is to measure psychopathology. “Psychopathology refers to either the study of mental illness, mental distress or the manifestation of behaviors and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment” (Cattell and Kline, 1977). The role of objective personality tests in counseling revolves around the understanding that a psychologist’s knowledge of mental distress or mental illness of a client forms the key to finding an effective and corrective counseling process. Furthermore, this knowledge is important when working with married couples or when counseling a student undergoing stressful periods in school.

Personnel selection and Research

The third application of objective personality tests is in personnel selection. Issues of human resource management constitute core topics in organizational management. It is in this regard that a human resource manager must seek to recruit the most skilled and suitable employee for different portfolios within an organization. In fact, human resource constitutes one of the determinants of business success in all companies. However, the rapidly changing business environment and the demand to recruit the best have ushered in new forms of selection and recruitment. Human resource managers must not only seek the best talents in establishing the right outcomes, but they must also focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the applicants and align each individual with the right job. This calls for an examination and knowledge of an individual’s personality traits and characteristics. These must give a clear indication of success in the given area within an organization. It is within this understanding that objective personality tests provide a standardized assessment of personality traits and characteristics to determine the suitability of an individual to a particular job. Furthermore, it can be used to identify specific individuals who are problematic within an organization. This may form the foundation through which an organization may acquire the capacity to develop effective teams.


Last, objective personality tests are widely used in research. Psychologists seeking to understand human personality have used objective personality tests for decades. According to Cattell and Kline (1977), “many of these tests were developed primarily to investigate personality constructs rather than for applied usage.” The understanding behind the construct of human personality tests in research revolves around three broad categories. First, tests form the basic research tools in gathering data on nature and personality and thus form the foundation in carrying out basic research. Second, a great deal of research points out the application of these tests in clinical research. Third, objective personality tests form a very important path in understanding how personality traits relate to other research variables.


Cattell, R.B. and Kline, P. (1977). The scientific analysis of personality and motivation. New York: Academic Press.

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