weekly forum responses

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This weeks forum post was the following:

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Imagine you are a psychologist conducting clinical assessments. Integrating examples and ideas from your readings and research this week, what are the shortcomings of interviewing as a personality assessment method? What other methods would you use to assess personality?

Below are two separate responses/post to this question. I need a follow up Response to EACH post agreeing/disagreeing and/or contributing to their findings or shortcomings. a overall discussion to each response of atleast 250 words.


Forum post #1

There are two types of interviewing. Hudson (2018) points out that clinical assessment interviews are used for diagnostic purposes and what type of psychotherapeutic interventions may be needed. This type of interview is interviewer-driven, as compared to a psychotherapeutic interview where the client is often allowed to lead the conversation but still offers supportive statements. This brings up the question of three types of interviews: structured, unstructured and semi-structured. Sattler (2002) states that all three kinds have a place in a clinical assessment, but how do we view interviews for personality assessment? Interviews in this scenario have their benefits and also their shortcomings. One of the possible shortcomings is in the design of interview questions.

Friesen and Ellis (2008) conducted two laboratory sessions with first-year psychology students who were instructed in question design for interview assessment. The purpose was to test measurement validity using both the interview and a questionnaire to elicit responses for personality assessment. The questionnaire was used to measure “four personality traits — emotionality, activity level, sociability, and impulsivity — using Buss and Plomin’s (1975) EASI–III questionnaire” (p. 110). The students then designed a list of 12 interview questions, which can be a shortcoming of using interviews for personality assessment (Friesen & Ellis, 2008). That is, the questions used during an interview need to be carefully crafted to elicit the desired information and to meet the validity and reliability “tests”. As I mentioned in Week 3’s Forum about interviewing prospective candidates for a manager’s position, the same questions need to be asked of all clients in a personality assessment interview, especially if a counselor is creating his or her own assessment (Effective Interviews, 2018).

Alongside interviews are observations. As I wrote in Week 6’s Forum about assessing a defendant, following Bandura’s observational learning theory would allow the counselor to assess the client’s physical and nonverbal behavior during the interview. Further questioning would also elicit if the client was influenced by the modeling behaviors of others in his or her life and then to assess the impact of those others upon the client’s personality characteristics (Aiken & Groth-Marnat, 2006). Observation during an interview might also allow the counselor to assess any anxiety which might impact the reliability of client answers.

Kowal, Masood, and Jha (2017) addressed test anxiety among candidates who were given personality assessment tests for selection of being in Armed Force Officer Cadre. The researchers explored such anxiety when several projective tests were administered, to include the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Word Association Test, Situation Reaction Test and Self Description in group testing conditions (Kowal, Masood, & Jha, 2017). When several candidates were retested, no evidence of test anxiety was present. That is, test familiarity did not produce any significant difference in emotionality and performance. The importance of this is that, if a client undergoes the same assessment tests, whether projective, interview or objective testing, his or her level of anxiety is lower than on first testing (Kowal, Masood, & Jha, 2017). The implication here is that the counselor needs to know the client’s test-taking history and if any of the assessments used are repeat ones for that client. If not, then any observed anxiety, or that elicited via projective or objective tests, might be attributed to the client’s personality profile.

Anxiety in being interviewed, in itself, might be another shortcoming of interviewing for personality assessment, which is a subjective test method. As I mentioned in other Forums, another shortcoming might be that the client answers interview questions in a manner that she or he thinks the counselor wants to hear, rather than a true response.

Of course, in assessing personality, a psychologist could also detect personality disorders (PD). For example, if a projective test leads the psychologist to determine a possible personality disorder, further testing could be done. Rizeanu (2016) reviewed such tests, which include the “Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure (SWAP II), Standardized Assessment of Personality – Abbreviated Scale (SAPAS), Iowa Personality Disorder Screen (IPDS), Inventory of Interpersonal Problems – Personality Disorders – 25 (IIP-PD-25), and Five Factor Model Rating Form (FFMRF)” (p. 107). However, these tests have their drawbacks because they can be time consuming, and the psychologist needs special training to administer them. Thus, as mentioned, patients need to first be screened for possible PD (Rizeanu, 2016). Rizeanu (2016) concluded that clinicians need to use several screening measures when assessing PD in order to establish validity and reliability of the data and make a correct diagnosis.

Another test is the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) which Piotrowski (2017) states is being used internationally. This is probably because 78% of studies determining the use of this test worldwide was found to be moderate to high usage, meaning that the PAI is popular among forensic and clinical psychologists and neuropsychologists. It was concluded that PAI training be included in all graduate and doctoral programs and in the multimethod assessment of personality.

Mihura, Roy, and Graceffo (2017) also argue for psychological assessment training in clinical psychology doctoral programs. They found that only 83 out of 244 APA-accredited doctoral clinical psychology programs include such training, and in those 83 programs, the PAI was taught in only 76% of them, second to the MMPI.

A final assessment form is computer-based test interpretation, which are commercial programs that interpret a variety of tests for a variety of cognitive, neuropsychological and personality scales. However, because of problems with interpretation, as mentioned above, this method needs to be only one among a multimethod form of assessment (Aiken and Groth-Marnat, 2006).

There are obviously shortcomings to most psychological assessments and tests, subjective and objective; however, the major shortcoming is that not all clinicians are properly trained and certified in how to administer and assess the data obtained from such testing. Aren’t we fortunate to be taking this course and critiquing various tests and assessments, even if we don’t work in a capacity requiring us to administer tests? wink

Forum post #2

From this week’s lesson, we have learned that interviewing is the oldest and most commonly used method of personality assessment. When utilized to conduct a clinical assessment, it is done so for therapeutic purposes to guide a patient towards much needed services. The interviewing process can provide detailed information on a person regarding the nature, duration and severity of his or her problems (Aiken, 2006, pg.358). When using this method, a downside can be the interviewee’s unwillingness to be open and disclose the most needed information to the interviewer, due to the mannerisms of the interviewer. Also, the interviewer may ask the wrong questions that are not relevant to the interviewee’s situation. It is important in the interviewing process for the interviewer to be warm, accepting and appear non-judgmental.

The second downside to this method is reliability and validity of interviewing. The reliability of interviewing is higher when questions are specific and relevant to rated behaviors. It is also higher when the interview is structured or semi-structured. For validity, the interviewer may fail to obtain full and correct information from the interviewee by, not allowing complete responses in a timely fashion or recording responses incorrectly (Aiken, 2006, pg.363). Third, personality assessments are designed to measure behavior and may have defects and limitations when being utilized. When using personality assessments the interviewer must keep in mind that some subjects can control or manipulate their answers resulting in false responses. Also, interviewers must abide by ethical guidelines ensuring: confidentiality and protection of their clients information and rights.

To assess personality within a clinical setting, I would utilize the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). It is good to use for clinical diagnosing, treatment planning and screening for psychopathology in adults who are 18 and older. Reviews for using this method have proven to be valid according to extensive research performed on different norm groups. PAI is the most commonly used objective personality tests in practice and clinical training (Aiken, 2006, pg.417). The second method that I would use is clinical observation. It is objective and unobtrusive when observing behavior. I can record notes about the examinee’s appearance, their non-verbal behaviors and record most common behaviors observed and verified by others in a clinical setting. Last, I would use a self-report screening questionnaire which corresponds with diagnostic criterion in the DSM – IV manual for the following purposes: to save time and focus on negative questionnaire responses and follow-up on criterion where a disorder may be present (Gibbon, 1998).

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