Psychometric Testing

by Claire Walsh and David Hoad

Personality profiles

Personality profiles attempt to describe us by identifying our personality traits or type. They are based around an underlying theory (model) of the characteristics that make up personality, and just as there are several different theories about personality, so there are several – in fact many – kinds of profile. You may hear about ‘the big five’ personality factors, or four, or other variations, and these factors are often broken down into the more detailed traits for profiling purposes.

All models are wrong. Some are useful.

George E P Box

Personality profiles based on trait theory can include such paired opposites as extraversion and introversion, tough-minded or gentle, practical or theoretical. They are usually measured on a scale that bridges right across between the two extremes, and these scales are designed to provide consistent and accurate comparisons between individuals and against the scores for various sample groups.

Profiles based on type theory (Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, for example) have a different slant on personality, with again a small number of fundamental characteristics, but here the emphasis is on measuring your preference to act or behave, think or feel, in a particular way – whether or not you actually live out those preferences in your day-to-day life.

Unlike ability and aptitude tests, personality profiles do not have right or wrong answers and generally produce more than one score based on a scale or dimension of personality and providing an overall profile. The profile is then used as a basis for interpreting how an individual is likely to behave in different circumstances.

Some commonly-used personality profiles

The 16PF

is a trait-based instrument which assesses 16 individual personality characteristics and is used for both selection and development purposes.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

is a type profile which provides individuals and teams with an insight into their own and others’ personality styles and is used for individual and team development.

The Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)

is a trait questionnaire which assesses underlying personality traits and is used in assessment contexts and to support individual and team development.


focuses on interpersonal relationship styles and is used to assess how an individual’s personal needs affect that person’s behaviour towards other individuals.