In general terms, personality is a set or repertoire of behaviours that is usually consistent across time and situations. There is variability but for most day-to-day situations and contexts, excluding highly stressful, novel or significant power differences, our personality is stable and predictable. It’s not possible to predict specific instances of behaviour but knowing a person’s personality can help predict how they will behave most of the time in normal, physically and psychologically safe, conditions.
What personality profile, amongst the numerous products on the market, is the best or most accurate, particularly in the recruitment and staff selection context? After just a 30-minute survey of the internet and viewing known test provider websites, I was able to identify 36 different personality or behavioural assessments!
With so many profiles available, how can a user of personality profiles decide upon the best and most accurate profile? What does the science and research, not the marketing, say about personality profiles?
The research into personality over the past four decades has overwhelmingly supported a model of personality referred to as the “Five-Factor Model of Personality” or sometimes called the “Big Five”. The field of psychology and the science of personality has consistently supported this model of personality. Indeed, many of the widely used personality profiles (OPQ, HPI & NEO-PI-3) are based on the Five-Factor Model of Personality. However, the only personality questionnaire and profile that measures the Five-Factor Model is the NEO-PI-3.
Some quotes from scientific journal articles about the Five-Factor Model of Personality are as follows:
Sydney Business School & University of Wollongong reported the following in the International Coaching Psychology Review, September 2012:
“The Big-Five/Five-Factor Model of personality, based on the trait approach, is considered by most authors to be the most investigated and validated model of personality currently available”.
“In the 1980s a consensus began to emerge on a Five-Factor model developed by Costa & McCrae. Support for the Five-Factor model has been further strengthened by a series of meta-analyses confirming the Big-Five’s predictive validity in terms of behaviours and life outcomes across a wide range of contexts. The Five-Factor model is now the most widely accepted general model of personality used today”.
“The NEO-PI-R is rapidly becoming one of the most popular measures of normal personality in the research literature. The psychometric properties, including predictive validity, of this inventory are uniformly favourable as evidenced by empirical reviews”.
An article in the Harvard Business Review, titled, “Most Work Conflicts Aren’t Due to Personality”, 20.5.14:
“If you or others feel you must use personality testing as part of conflict resolution, consider using non-categorical, well-validated personality assessments such as the Hogan Personality Inventory or the NEO Assessment of the “Big Five” Personality dimensions. These tests, which have ample peer-reviewed, and psychometric evidence to support their reliability and validity, better explain variance in behavior than do categorical assessments like the Myers-Briggs, and therefore can better explain why conflicts may have unfolded the way they have. And unlike the Myers-Briggs which provides an “I’m OK, you’re OK”-type report, the Hogan Personality Inventory and the NEO are likely to identify some hard-hitting development themes for almost anyone brave enough to take them, for example telling you that you are set in your ways, likely to anger easily, and take criticism too personally”.
An article in Scientific American titled, “How Accurate Are Personality Tests?”, 11.10.18:
“By contrast, the Big 5 and HEXACO models were shaped by an empirical process and independent peer review that showed people’s scores tended to be consistent, and predictions made using the models are reproducible. Without that, personality tests should be treated with extreme suspicion.”
Therefore, the personality model supported by independent scientific research is the Five-Factor Model of Personality as measured by the NEO-PI-3. Thus, at Fermion we use the NEO-PI-3, or other profiles that are based on the five-factor model, such as the Employee Personality Profile from Criteria.