Personality tests designed to determine how the individual views himself—that is, the pattern of attitudes he entertains or assumes concerning his values, goals, abilities, and personal worth.An individual’s self-image, or self- concept, is considered one of the most basic and crucial components of his personality. It deeply affects not only his relationship to himself but his relations to other people and the world at large. A realistic self-evaluation and a full measure of self-acceptance and selfesteem are regarded as foundation stones of healthy adjustment. A consistent, well-organized conception of his ideals, abilities, and possibilities gives him a sense of personal identity and a point of departure for developing a life style of his own. On the other hand, the individual who entertains a deep doubt about who or what he is tends to feel lost, confused, and alienated from himself and from other people. And if he lacks self-acceptance or sets unrealistic goals for himself, he is apt to develop feelings of inferiority which cause him either to avoid competition or to overcompensate by attempting to prove his superiority over others. One of the major aims of psychotherapy is to help the patient eliminate such defensive maneuvers and achieve a more adequate, realistic, and unified conception of himself.A number of tests have been developed to elicit and define the individual’s conception of himself. They are used as a research tool in studying the nature of personality, with emphasis on the uniqueness of each in dividual; and also as a clinical instrument in assessing individuals who need therapeutic help. One device is the Adjective Check List (Gough, 1952), consisting of three hundred adjectives, from “absent-minded” to “zany.” The subject is asked to check all items that apply to himself, and the results are then analyzed and compared to findings on more indirect personality tests.A second procedure is to interpret personality inventory responses on such tests as the Minnesota Multiphasic (MMPI) in terms of self-conceptualization. Loevinger (1959) has made a thorough study of this approach and believes that the ability to “assume distance” from one’s self and form a self-concept is an important personality trait. She finds that the individual progresses from an almost total lack of self-concept during infancy and early childhood to a stereotyped, conventional concept developed during adolescence—and as he becomes increasingly mature, he may go on to develop a differentiated, realistic self-concept in which he recognizes his abilities and shortcomings and accepts himself for whatever he is. However, many if not most individuals remain at the stereotype stage—and, interestingly, score higher than differentiated individuals on tests of emotional adjustment.A third technique is the Q sort, developed, by Stephenson (1953). The subject is asked to sort a set of cards or trait names into piles which range from “most characteristic” to “least characteristic” of himself, with a specified number in each pile. The items may be part of a standardized group, but are often selected with the individual case in mind. In making a detailed investigation of an individual, he is usually asked to re-sort the cards in a number of ways—for example, those applying to himself on the job, at home, or in social situations. He may also sort them according to how he believes he is, how he thinks others see him, or how he would like to be. Q sorts may also be obtained at different stages in psychotherapy as a means of assessing changes. In addition, the technique may be used in determining the individual’s concept of other people, such as members of the family, or in discovering a clinician’s or interviewer’s evaluation of an individual.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "SELF-CONCEPT TESTS," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed July 6, 2022).


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