History of Psychological Assessment

Different historical events on the development of psychological testing have impacted the field of psychology. Each event has had its individual impact to the area of psychological testing. With these findings and impacts, we are now able to evaluate test results using normal distribution and are able to classify data using diverse scales of measurement. Key events have developed the field such as the development of the MMPI and alpha and beta testing. The development and creation of Wundt’s laboratory was one of the most significant events in psychological testing and in the field.

Wilhelm Wundt created the first laboratory created for the use of psychology. When Wundt was a student, he wanted to know and study the human mind. Many of his theories and works were created while he was a student. This was the start to one of the greatest contributions. His background was in physiology and believed that our consciousness could be broken down without sacrificing anything (Boring, 1929). Many of his theories and works were created while he was a student. Wundt wanted to separate psychology from physiology and was able to have an emphasis on measurement and control of the mind. He analyzed the mind and its workings in a way that was more structured (McLeod, 2008).

The Institute for Experimental Psychology was opened in 1879 at the University of Leipzig in Germany. Wundt dedicated this solely to the study of psychology (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010). The laboratory was offered to philosophy and psychology German students and all others student second. Most of the laboratories that were created after Wundt have followed the same model. Wundt founded the voluntarism school of psychology and his goals were to record senses and feelings and then analyze them (McLeod, 2008).  He also focused on images, feelings, thoughts and mental functions. One of his studies was based on the reaction times and sensory processes and responsiveness. He purposely set out to create a new science and has since been called the Father of Psychology (McLeod, 2008).  According to a History of Experimental Psychology, “The mind is a creative, dynamic, and volitional force that must be understood through an analysis of its activity in which it processes” (Boring, 1929. p7).  This is what Wundt believed and it helped him create the laboratory.

The creation of the laboratory changed the field forever because it was a recognized lab that the mind was studied. For so many years, many believed that it was a folk-science or mythological. For Wundt to create this lab, meant that psychology was going in the right direction towards becoming a recognized and trustworthy science. His research included many studies in which introspection was used to see how the stimulus made someone think or feel (Blumenthal & Rieber, 1980).

The lab made such a significant impact on the development of psychological testing because many followed in Wundt’s footsteps.  Many followed how he carefully controlled conditions. Eventually, behaviorists followed the same experimental approach as they saw that Wundt was going somewhere. With Wundt creating the lab, he has contributed to the study of experimental psychology and the studies of perceptual processes (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010).   The beginning of scientific psychology started with this lab, and accelerated the used of psychology. Some professionals and researchers believe that we are able to test results using the normal distribution and classify data using the scales of measurement because of the lab. Many are unsure if we would be using standard deviation, t-scores, z-scores, and correlations if it were not for Wundt and his laboratory (Serge & Ludovic, August, 1999).

According to the Journal, American Psychologist, “Wundt’s lab and research stimulated interest in the 21st century to study cognitive psychology” (Corwin, 1968, p. 456). Not only did the lab provide the scientific nature the field needed but caused a ripple effect within experimental and cognitive psychology. The Institute for Experimental Psychology has had a significant impact on the field in which the date it was opened is now considered the founding day of psychology. Diverse historical proceedings on the development of psychological testing have impacted the field of psychology. Each event has had its distinct impact to the area of psychological testing. With these findings and impacts, we are now able to evaluate test results using normal distribution and are able to classify data using diverse scales of measurement. The development and creation of Wundt’s laboratory was one of the most significant events in psychological testing and within psychological assessment  (Serge & Ludovic,1999).

References

Blumenthal, A., & Rieber, R. W. (1980). Wilhelm Wundt and the Making of a Scientific Psychology. New York, NY: Columbia Univesity.

Boring, E. (1929). A History of Experimental Psychology. New York, NY: The Century Company.

Cohen, R. J., & Swerdlik, M. E. (2010). Psychological Testing and Assessment: An Introduction to Tests and Measurement (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Company.

Corwin, B. A. (1968). International Psychological Decade. American Psychologist, 23(6), 456-457. doi:10.1037/h0020801

McLeod, S. A. (2008). Wilhelm Wundt- Father of Psychology. Simply Psychology, 1(1), 1-2.

Serge, N., & Ludovic, F. (August, 1999). Wundt’s laboratory at Leipzig in 1891. History of Psychology, 2(3), 194-203. doi:10.1037/1093-4510.2.3.194

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“Are we saying that traits develop over time, or we are born with them?”

This is such a great question that I am sure many have asked. I think that it’s a little bit of both. We are predisposed to our genetics to a certain rate. We also develop socially and culturally through time. I believe that your environment, genetics, biology, social norms, and cultures all are factors to look at. I think each area contributes a certain amount to the overall picture of our traits and personalities. I think that our children are perfect examples to see how they are predisposed to some of our behaviors, but depending on their environments, these traits can change. For example, let’s look at a family that has many addicts including parents and grandparents. The sisters were predisposed to have addictive personalities. One of the sisters was around it and became addicted to things like caffeine, junk food and shopping but no substance abuse. She lives in a health environment and still has the addictive personality. However, she notices it now and is working hard to stop it. Fascinating how some of our traits are en-grained in us and other learned and developed over time.

Scientific Study of Personality

November 7th, 2012

Scientific Study of Personality

Researchers use a number of different methods to study personality. Three of the most commonly used methods are case studies, correlational designs, and experimental designs. Defining personality can be a difficult task, but psychologists have developed their own definition that can help define personality as it relates to the entire field of psychology. Many of the theories are developed and modified through ongoing research which is why the process of critically evaluating research studies on personality is huge. Each method to define and study personality differs as it provides specific information to include advantages and disadvantages to each method.

There are many different ways to define personality and many people use the meaning in different ways. According to the book Personality: Theory and Research, “Personality addresses three issues: human universals, individual differences, and individual uniqueness” (Cervone & Pervin, 2010, p.4 ). This can create a variety of definitions just from this sentence. Most psychologists refer to personality on a larger scale by looking at specific patterns of how an individual behaves, thinks, and feels (Cervone & Pervin, 2010).  Professionals also look at certain characteristics such as being introverted/extroverted and by understanding this portion, it can help the psychologist on how the individual may react in situations and more on the psychological impacts on his or her personality. Many experiences can impact a personality whether it is family influence, social influence, or the friends of an individual.

The five W’s come to mind when thinking about personality: what, where, when how, and why. With obtaining this information from the client, the psychologist or other professional is able to understand the dominating factors of an individual’s personality. On a larger scale, this can also help determine precise motivation’s for one’s actions that can also help understand personality.  If a personality changes this can also help the professional to why and if it was for a brief period of time depending on the motivational factor. One’s personality structure is also important to review as it will help understand ones motives, behavior, development, and why someone is resistant to change (Cervone & Pervin, 2010).

Since personality can be difficult to define, it can also be difficult to measure. The data of a personality assessment can vary depending on the person. It is important to look at data from different sources to see what relates and what differs. When looking and evaluating the data, it is also important to assess the reliability and validity of the assessment and responses. There are three general approaches to personality research: case studies and clinical research, personality questionnaires and correlational research, and laboratory studies and experimental research (Cervone & Pervin, 2010).  Each approach to understanding and defining personality has similarities and differences as well as advantages and disadvantages. It is crucial to know which method will help based on a case by case scenario.

The first method is case studies and clinical research. Some clinicians feel that this is the best method to truly dive into one’s personality and be able dissect any fragment. Many times this method is used when treating an individual and or developing personality theories.  First and foremost the professional treats their patient and can come back later on to help develop detailed theories. Like any other method, this has its advantages and disadvantages. The case studies and research can accomplish many of the goals outlined in other approaches. This approach can create new knowledge, test a hypothesis, and potentially solve problems. When using this method the researcher/clinician can conduct the study while avoiding issues with statistics and other issues that are found within empirical approaches (Schwartz, Cieciuch, & Vecchione, October, 2012). A disadvantage of this method is that the professional can rely too much on his or her interpretations of the results. This is where the reliability and validity factor come into play. An advantage of this process would be that the lab cannot crate anything artificial and that the professional is able to study the individual in full detail, leading to a more comprehensive and reliable method (Schwartz, Cieciuch, & Vecchione, October, 2012).

The next method of approach to personality is personality questionnaires and correlational research. When case studies and in-depth research is unavailable for an individual, this is a desirable method. This is used also to understand human nature and the choices an individual selects can determine many components of his or her personality. A disadvantage of this method is that it can be sometimes viewed as unreliable. The individual could take the test in an environment where they feel uncomfortable or when the individual is having a bad day. The subject could answer questions based on their current mood versus their norm reaction. An advantage of this process is that there are many results that can help understand a personality. This process is known mainly as a strategy versus a particular tool to measure personality (Cervone & Pervin, 2010). This process helps understand the variable and its surroundings. Most have taken some type of personality test when applying for a job. This also helps employers correlate if the person of interest is suited for the position based on the assessment. A disadvantage of this process is that the individual is not studied in detail and the reliability can be skewed (Cervone & Pervin, 2010).

Experimental research is another method used and is also referred to as laboratory studies. This is an environment in which the professional is able to use a controlled environment. The professional is able to see what parts of the experiment affect some variables and if they were manipulated (Cervone & Pervin, 2010). Being able to manipulate specific variables and record fata objectively is an advantage of this process. With this method some things cannot be measure or manipulated in the laboratory and the disadvantage is that it can create a false situation that actually confines the amount of findings.

Researchers use a number of different methods to study personality. Three of the most commonly used methods are case studies, correlational designs, and experimental designs. Each method to define and study personality differs as it provides specific information to include advantages and disadvantages to each method. Clinical research encompasses a complete and comprehensive study of an individual. Correlational research measures specific variables and tries to understand how each variable relates to one another. Experimental research conducts research on manipulation of specific variables and finds the outcome (McCrae, July, 2011). Professionals and clinicians all use different methods depending on the end result and what he or she is looking to accomplish. Sometimes the result is not the most important but the research strategy associated with the result.

References

Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2010). Personality: Theory and research (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

McCrae, R. R. (July, 2011). Personality Theories for the 21st Century. Teaching of Psychology, 38(1), 209-214. doi:10.1177/0098628311411785

Schwartz, S. H., Cieciuch, J., & Vecchione, M. (October, 2012). Refining the theory of basic individual values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103(4), 663-688. doi:10.1037/a0029393