Hermeneutics Of Personality Description

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Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology


Investigated, in 6 studies with graduate and undergraduate students, the limits of interpretive flexibility within the sphere of personality assessment. It is noted that since most researchers use personality measures that are taken out of context, interpretation of findings are without apparent constraint. In the present study, Ss completed Rotter's Internal–External Locus of Control Scale. Findings show that sophisticated language users could demonstrate how responses on any item of the scale could plausibly be used as indicators of virtually any common trait term within the English language. Multiple items could be viewed as an indicator of the same trait, or multiple traits could be plausibly explained as the source of the same internal–external (I–E) response. Furthermore, identical traits (other than I–E) could be linked to opposing items, and logically opposing traits could both be understood as giving rise to the same I–E response. These and additional findings suggest that interpretations of personality research data may depend primarily on social processes within the science. (51 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)