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Choosing An Accurate And Reliable Personality Assessment

Ever wondered why you always end up in the wrong job or the worst relationships, even when they seemed so promising going in? It can be especially confusing when there doesn't really seem to be anything wrong with the work or the other person, just that things never did seem to take off or click. Well, maybe it's not the work or your prospective partners - maybe you just don't have a clear understanding of who you really are in the first place - your personality type, your risk aversion levels, your tendencies and the underlying assets, preferences and issues in your make-up that you may not be taking into consideration. But how do you go about "finding yourself" without embarking on a navel-gazing and soul-searching journey of epic proportions (which, face it, few of us have the time for)?

One of the best places to start is personality assessment. There are literally thousands of different assessments available, often on the Internet where they are either free (although often in an abbreviated form from their full fee access) or at a reasonable charge. A quality test can help you map your personality makeup as a whole and perhaps tease out previously hidden factors in your mindset or behavior that may affect your decision making, your overall job and life satisfaction in given situations and your choices.

There are many website and hard-published assessments which can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and where your personal gifts lay. However, you have to pay attention and steer clear of "recreational" assessments and quizzes if you are looking for an accurate and predictive overview, especially on the Internet. To be truly useful, a personality assessment must meet three criteria:

It must be empirical and accurate
This means that the test is based on scientifically designed questions that are proven to be predictive (by having known personality types take the test, and checking for correlation in the results).

It must be normed
This means that when the assessment results are tabulated as a group, the number and pattern of personality types it presents must be representative of the general population who are likely to be taking the test. This is done by testing a representative sample, graphing the test results and then matching the results against a scientifically predicted bell curve for that particular population. Note that if an assessment is designed for a specific, narrow population (such as law enforcement cadets, engineers or abused women), it will produce results that are skewed from the general population norm, but which can be internally predictable and normed within that narrowly defined group.

It must be reliable and consistent
This means that the test must return the overall same pattern of results for the same person taking it repeatedly, even if their answers differ slightly from day to day due to normal moods and perceptions. This also means that the greater the number of questions, the more likely it is to be accurate (assuming it was created by trained individuals). A large pool of questions (from which the actual test is randomly generated) allows a little "wriggle room" for slightly different answers, plus allows for plenty of "cross-check" questions which ask essentially the same things, but from different perspectives and with different wording. Often an assessment will be tested for internal consistency by giving the same individuals half of the test questions (say, all the odd numbered questions). The test result is tabulate, and then the other half of the questions is given and the results compared. If both halves produce essentially identical results, the test can be considered internally consistent.

There are innumerable "fun" tests out there, from "Are you a good kisser?" to assessments designed to look scientific but which, in effect, tell you what you want to hear (along the lines of fake horoscopes and palm readings at the fair) and only after you sign into their "members-only results" area, as a means to procuring your email address. Or they give you a free low-content, vague and essentially useless answer, and then offer to send you the full results if you sign up for their product or course. Of course, there are several respected and reliable assessment companies that also offer a two-tiered membership approach (free scaled back test, and membership-fee full service and content version), so you need to be able to differentiate between the two.

Many well-respected assessments, especially the popular ones such as the MAPP (Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential), the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator or the DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) Profile, charge quite a bit for the full service. But this is only fair, as they are the result of literally years of research, proprietary information gathering, intellectual property creation and relentless testing, not to mention countless man-hours of work. Also, many of these high-quality and scientifically validated tests are so complicated, and the results so open to misinterpretation by the layperson, that in order to get the full benefit and usefulness of the test it needs to be administered by, and the results personally reviewed and discussed with, a trained administrator.

The results you get from these fee-paid assessments are generally worth the money, if you have it. If you don't, you can still find several small or scaled back assessments that give reasonably detailed and accurate results for free, or for a nominal registration fee. Another way to get a proper assessment on the cheap is to take one offered in a book, either purchased or loaned out from your local public library. Many assessments can be found in hardcopy form and even if they lack the depth of a professionally administered version, they can be taken and the results studied and interpreted at your leisure. Of course, as with the Internet versions, you have to critically judge the content and accuracy of any book-bound personality assessment you take.

What you find out about yourself once you've competed a few assessments may shock you. Or it may simply confirm suspicions you've had all along. Either way, by actively and consciously using the information you have gained, you will stand a far better chance of creating and maintaining a quality and style of living that works for you rather than against you - and that's an assessment we can all live with.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Soni Pitts is the Chief Visionary Butt-Kicker of SoniPitts.Com. She specializes in helping others reclaim "soul proprietorship" in their lives and to begin living the life their Creator always intended for them.

She is the author of the free e-book "50 Ways To Reach Your Goals" and over 100 self-help and inspirational articles, as well as other products and resources designed to facilitate this process of personal growth and spiritual developmen