A Comprehensive Guide on Personality Test Theory and Psychometrics

November 22, 2022
Natalie Thorburn

Do you think you have your personality traits pinned down? Are you an agreeable person, or intuitive, or maybe dependable? These are common questions people ask themselves. But what do they really mean by these terms? What is the difference between introverted and extroverted? More importantly, how can a psychometric test tell if you are one of these types of people and how can it help with your career choice.

In this blog post we will discuss the basics of personality trait theory and psychometrics. We'll also look at some more familiar concepts such as Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI), DISC profile analysis, Kolbe Index tests and O*NET-AQ assessment tests.

Personality Trait Theory

The concept of personality trait theory dates to 1686 when English philosopher and Anglican minister Ralph Cudworth discussed the character traits of humans in his book, "The True Intellectual System of the Universe." For almost 3 centuries, psychologists continued to debate about how to properly define personality; debating about how many traits a single individual could have and whether certain traits were determined by cultural factors or nature.

In the early 1900s, American psychologist Edward Thorndike provided a solid theoretical framework for predicting human behaviour. Thorndike proposed that human behaviour is consistent and that human beings have an "efficient causation" in their actions. This means that a person responds to particular situations in a way that is consistent with their personality.

Later on, in the 1940s and 1950s, Carl Rogers developed the theory of humanistic psychology and Abraham Maslow formulated his hierarchy of needs. These theories became quite popular among psychologists because of their focus on human potential and acceptance of human nature.

Then in 1961, American psychologist Raymond Cattell proposed the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF), which measured 16 personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences etc). This questionnaire was considered revolutionary for its time as it saw great success in predicting job performance and identifying individuals with certain traits.

Cattell proposed different types of factors: physiological, extroverted/introverted, and emotional/rational. These traits were further categorised into the Big Five Personality Traits.

The Big Five Personality Traits include:

  1. Openness to experience – This trait refers to how broad or intellectual an individual has been exposed to new ideas and ideas. It is measured by peoples' breadth of knowledge about a variety of subjects (and can also be considered their general intelligence).
  2. Agreeableness – The tendency to give in, follow the crowd and conform to others.
  3. Conscientiousness – This trait measures interest in work, reliability and orderliness.
  4. Extroverted – This refers to the tendency for individuals to be outgoing, enthusiastic and assertive.
  5. Neurotic – This is the tendency for individuals to be moody, worried and impulsive.

These personality traits continue to be discovered in various studies of psychometric tests so they are probably valid.

The Big Five Personality Trait Theory is also popular among career counsellors and employers since it suggests that certain personalities are better suited for certain careers than others. For this reason, many psychometric tests on the market today try to measure these traits and match them with careers that make sense based on these traits.


Psychometrics is the study and interpretation of psychological measurements, including psychometric tests. The word 'psychomatrix' was first used in 1883 by Francis Galton (a British statistician and a half-cousin of Charles Darwin) to refer to physical measurements that could be used to measure the mental characteristics of individuals.

The most common types of psychometric tests are those that measure intellectual abilities. These tests focus on different types of intelligence such as verbal and non-verbal, concrete and abstract etc. Some examples include Wonderlic Test, Woodcock Johnson Tests, Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale etc.

There are also many psychological tests that measure personality traits such as the MMPI-2, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III and other similar tests. These psychometric tests have been used extensively in research studies as a way to measure personality traits and behavioural disorders.

Psychometric Tests – How To Take Them And What To Expect

  1. Wonderlic Test For IQ: This is a cognitive ability test that measures abstract reasoning ability, numerical reasoning, spatial visualisation and verbal comprehension (mostly based on reading comprehension). The test usually takes less than 15 minutes to complete and is usually given by interviewers in person.
  2. Wonderlic Personnel Test: While this is an IQ test, it can also be used to screen people applying for jobs. This test has 50 questions that must be answered within 12 minutes. It has many applications for vocational-technical schools and other entry-level jobs involving supervised work or training in technical or clerical areas etc. It is a type of online psychometric test.
  3. The Progressive Matrices Test: This is a non-verbal reasoning test that involves pattern perception and abstract thinking skills – which are useful for solving problems, analysing patterns etc (the types of things you would do when solving puzzles or playing games). The test is a series of patterns that the individual must identify quickly.
  4. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS): This cognitive ability test is commonly used to measure intellectual functioning in adults of different age groups. It was developed by David Wechsler during World War II and has since been revised several times. The WAIS tests verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed (formerly known as 'mental speed'). This is generally a time-consuming test so you may have to wait 30 minutes or more to finish it.
  5. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2): The MMPI-2 is one of the most widely used psychological tests in clinical practice. It is designed to detect emotional and mental disorders but can also be used to assess personality traits such as anxiety, depression, hostility etc. The test was first developed in 1944 by Starke R. Hathaway and J.C. McKinley who based it on the original Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).

You can take an online psychometric test on many websites. I will recommend you to use Mercer Mettl as the test on their site has been designed by experts and is beneficial to most people.


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