Psychology researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new personality test that the researchers say is both faster to take and much harder to manipulate by those attempting to control the outcome.
The new test is based on the well-established Big Five paradigm of personality traits, which focuses on five broad factors: extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism and agreeableness. The test can be used as part of workplace training or for research purposes.
“We used this paradigm because it is supported by the broadest body of research and holds up across cultures and demographic groups,” says Adam Meade, a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper on the work.
The online test relies on a method developed by Meade known as rapid response measurement (RRM), which displays a series of adjectives one after another. Test-takers only have a few seconds to click whether each adjective is “like me” or “not like me.”
“People take about one second, on average, to make a decision for each word. This allows us to collect a significant amount of data in a very short period of time — orders of magnitude faster than other tests,” Meade says.
“The rapid response rate also makes it difficult to manipulate the outcome, and our software incorporates response time into its analysis of responses. For example, if users take too long to respond to an adjective, that response does not have as much impact on scores as adjectives with faster responses.”
Altogether, the new paper includes the findings of four studies. In three of the studies — involving a total of 425 participants — researchers evaluated the accuracy of the RRM Big Five test when compared to well-established Big Five testing protocols. All three studies show that the results were comparable, even though the RRM technique took much less time.
In the third study, involving 205 people, researchers asked people to repeat the test but to try to manipulate the outcome. They found it was four times harder for participants to cheat on the outcome of the RRM test, compared to the conventional test.
And the RRM system can be used to assess things other than the Big Five. The fourth study focused on workplace personality testing and involved 228 business managers from across the United States.
In this study, the researchers compared the findings of the RRM test to an established workplace personality test — as well as to personal assessments conducted by the study participants’ real-world supervisors and peers. The RRM test results aligned more closely with the actual workplace assessments than did the traditional tests.
“We’re optimistic that our approach can streamline the testing process and provide more accurate information for use in training, hiring and research,” Meade says.
Source: North Carolina State University