The Importance Of Self-Report In Personality Research

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Self-report is the dominant method of assessment in personality research. Respondents are asked questions about how they think, feel, and behave, and their answers are assumed to be accurate and predictive of behaviors associated with those traits. These reports essentially rely on the ability of respondents to accurately remember and report on the cause and/or effect of momentary thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Thinking heuristics provide insight on the behaviors that participants may be more likely to report. Considering the fact that respondents typically answer personality assessments within a certain period of time, they often must be quick thinkers; thus, they are more likely to use short-cuts via heuristics. Awareness of these heuristics …show more content…
There are many types of anchors that could influence one’s responses. For instance, the respondent’s emotional state at the time of assessment may color their answers (e.g., feeling anxious and then answering Strongly Disagree to “I rarely feel fearful or anxious”). Similarly, a response to one item may put participants into a cognitive frame that influences later responses. For instance, an Extraversion question on the NEO is, “I tend to assume the best about people.” Perhaps due to recent circumstances (e.g., poor interpersonal experience), an individual responds negatively to this prompt. Even if an individual typically enjoys this activity, they may use this question as an anchor and answer accordingly on future questions related to extraversion and interactions with other people. Some of these anchors may be related to the respondent’s self in …show more content…
Although heuristics allow respondents to quickly answer questions about their experiences, the use of heuristics may lead to biased or inaccurate reporting based on trait and situation influences. Thus, personality assessments may consider more specified instructions and labels (e.g., rarely, often) to gain responses in line with the goal of the measure (e.g., current experiences versus past month versus in general). Even so, despite all the potential biases, it is quite remarkable that questionnaires do as well as they do in predicting

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