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Psychological Evaluations (Personality Profile) in Northern New Jersey

A psychological evaluation could be needed in a number of instances. For caring, confidential evaluations, patients in Totowa, Woodland Park, Little Falls Township and the surrounding areas in New Jersey rely on Psycho-Educational Associates.

What is a Psychological Evaluation (Personality Profile)?

A personality assessment is essentially the measurement of personal characteristics.  An assessment is an end result of gathering information intended to advance psychological theory and research and to increase the probability that wise decisions will be made in applied settings (e.g., in selecting the most promising people from a group of job applicants). The approach taken by the specialist in personality assessment is based on the assumption that much of the observable variability in behavior from one person to another results from differences in the extent to which individuals possess particular underlying personal characteristics (traits). The assessment specialist seeks to define these traits, to measure them objectively, and to relate them to socially significant aspects of behavior.

Anxiety, for example, is a concept, or construct, inferred in people from what they say, their facial expressions, and their body movements.

Personality is interactional in two senses. Personal characteristics can be thought of as products of interactions among underlying psychological factors; for example, an individual may experience tension because he or she is both shy and desirous of social success. These products, in turn, interact with the types of situations people confront in their daily lives. A person who is anxious about being evaluated might show debilitated performance in evaluative situations (for example, taking tests), but function well in other situations in which an evaluative emphasis is not present. Personality makeup can be either an asset or a liability depending on the situation. For example, some people approach evaluative situations with fear and foreboding, while others seem to be motivated in a desirable direction by competitive pressures associated with performance.

Assessment Methods

Personality tests provide measures of such characteristics as feelings and emotional states, preoccupations, motivations, attitudes, and approaches to interpersonal relations. There is a diversity of approaches to personality assessment. These include such assessments as the interview, rating scales, self-reports, personality inventories, projective techniques, and behavioral observation.

The Interview

In an interview the individual under assessment must be given considerable latitude in “telling his story.” The aim of the interview is to gather information, and the adequacy of the data gathered depends in large part on the questions asked by the interviewer.  The clinical interview, is focused on assessing the status of a particular individual (e.g., a person engaging in anti-social behaviors); such an interview is action-oriented (i.e., it may indicate appropriate treatment) and is generally conducted to obtain an individual’s life history and biographical information (e.g., identifying facts, family relationships).

Rating Scales

The rating scale is one of the oldest and most versatile of assessment techniques. Rating scales present users with an item and ask them to select from a number of choices. The rating scale is similar in some respects to a multiple choice test, but its options represent degrees of a particular characteristic.

Rating scales are used by observers and also by individuals for self-reporting (see below Self-report tests). They permit convenient characterization of other people and their behavior.  A teacher, for example, might be asked to rate students on the degree to which the behavior of each reflects leadership capacity, shyness, or creativity. Peers might rate each other along dimensions such as friendliness, trustworthiness, and social skills.

Self-Report Tests

Self-report personality tests are used in clinical settings in making diagnoses, in deciding whether treatment is required, and in planning the treatment to be used.  They are subjective instruments that tap into how one perceives themselves and how they perceive others to view them and how they dynamically interact with the world. and people around them.

Personality Inventories

Unlike cognitive testing which tests general knowledge and cognitive abilities or specific skills, personality inventories ask people questions about themselves. Each inventory or assessment is intended to identify a distinctive aspect and ingrained patterns of personality.  When taking such a test, the subject might have to decide whether each of a series of statements is accurate as a self-description or respond to a series of true-false questions about personal beliefs.

Projective Techniques

Projective techniques, in which a person is shown ambiguous stimuli (such as shapes or pictures) and asked to interpret them in some way, are typically used in conducting psychological examinations as well. Projective techniques are believed to be sensitive to unconscious dimensions of personality. Defense mechanisms, latent impulses, and anxieties have all been inferred from data gathered in projective situations.

Personality inventories and projective techniques do have some elements in common. These techniques differ in that the subject is given substantially free rein in responding to projective stimuli rather than merely answering true or false, for example.

Behavioral Assessment

Objective observation of a subject’s behavior is a technique that falls in the category of behavioral assessment. A variety of assessments could be considered, for example, in the case of a seven-year-old boy who, according to his teacher, is doing poorly in his schoolwork and, according to his parents, is difficult to manage at home and does not get along with other children. The following types of assessment might be considered: (1) a measure of the boy’s general intelligence, which might help explain his poor schoolwork; (2) an interview with him to provide insights into his view of his problem; (3) personality tests, which might reveal trends that are related to his inadequate social relationships; (4) observations of his activities and response patterns in school; (5) observations of his behavior in a specially created situation, such as a playroom with many interesting toys and games; (6) an interview with his parents, since the boy’s poor behavior in school may by symptomatic of problems at home; and (7) direct observation of his behavior at home.

Making all of these assessments would be a major undertaking and would be very expensive. Because of the variety of data that are potentially available, it is very important that a trained specialist decide which types of information are most feasible and desirable under a given set of circumstances.

There are plenty of benefits to obtaining a personality assessment. Here at Psycho-Educational Associates, we have experienced, caring professionals standing by ready to provide you with personality evaluations and a variety of other services. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!