Personality assessment is useful for describing an individual on characteristics which can not be directly observed. Behaviors are visible to people, but the reasons behind them and the motivations for them are not observable. Psychological assessment results provide a vocabulary for describing propensities and a view of the “whys” behind the behaviors. This information sets the stage for more effective employee and manager selection, succession planning, team building, and professional development.

So how does one determine the validity of a personality measure?

First, there is what’s known as the test-test validation process which correlates scores on an instrument with other instruments. These test-to-test correlations are conducted with instruments that are hypothesized to have similar or related constructs and with instruments that are hypothesized to be unrelated. For example, the process of validating the Character Assessment included having subjects take the Character along with the ASVAB, PSI Basic Skills Test (both should be unrelated), Myers-Briggs, SDS, Interpersonal Adjective Scales, Big Five Factor Markers, and the MMPI-2 (all of which should have some relationship to the measures). These analyses resulted in correlations that confirmed hypothesized relationships.

The next level of validation should include correlations between test scores and relevant non-test indicators—such as actual performance ratings. This step is taken to validate (confirm or not) whether the instrument accurately measures the predicted behavior and the impact on performance. Using our assessment, those who have high scores on the CDR Character Assessment “Adjustment” scale and a high CDR Risk Assessment “Egotist” scale will generally have higher self-ratings on 360 performance reviews. This translates to people who have higher opinions about their own performance in comparison with the perceptions of others. Thus, the correlations will be higher between these scale scores and the resulting behavior ratings.

The validation process should include statistical analyses using a variety of non-test indicators and performance results. In addition to performance reviews, other examples of non-test indicators may include: sales results, customer retention, customer complaints, accidents, turnover, errors, etc. We can provide summaries of this analysis or actual sample validation studies conducted for clients.

When evaluating personality assessment measures or styles inventories, it is important to determine whether the assessment authors performed only the first level of validity analysis, i.e. test to test, or, also validated the assessment results through correlations with actual performance behaviors. The test development process determines the applicability of the assessment results to workplace decisions. Only valid and reliable tools, as determined through the test development process, are valid for selection decisions. In other words, valid measures correlate to actual results.