LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY AND PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT

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The NEO PI-R

Taylor (2000) investigated the construct comparability of the NEO PI-R for black and white employees at a South African factory. The sample consisted of 300 respondents (150 black and 150 white), all with at least a Grade 12 level of education. Reported Cronbach alpha coefficients for the black sample (αN = .82, αE = .75, αO = .65, αA = .66, and αC = .82) were slightly lower than for the white sample (αN = .85, αE = .78, αO = .74, αA = .74, and αC = .82). After various rotation methods, Taylor (2000) found that the five-factor structure emerged for the white sample, but did not fit the black sample. At item level, the black sample seemed to experience difficulty with the language used in some of the items. Consequently the interpretation of factor results with regard to the black sample would have to be made with caution (Taylor, 2000). Words such as ‘permissiveness’, ‘broad-minded’, ‘controversial’, and ‘shrewdness’ were found to have unclear meanings for respondents in the black sample (Taylor, 2000).

The Basic Traits Inventory (BTI)

The BTI was selected for this research project as it was the only valid and reliable personality instrument developed on a South African sample and previous research on the BTI (De Bruin & Taylor, 2005b; Taylor, 2004, 2008 and Taylor & De Bruin, 2004, 2006) indicated that it was suitable for cross-cultural assessments in South Africa. Research on another South African developed personality instrument, the SAPQ, developed by Steyn (1974), indicated that it was not suitable for personality assessment across black and white cultures (Taylor & Boeyens, 1991). Furthermore reseach on Afrikaans speaking students indicated that yet another personality instrument used in South Africa, the Comrey, merely confirmed the presence of Eysenck’s (1970) three factor model (De Bruin, 2000). This research was however only conducted on Afrikaans speaking students.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESIS

Theoretical- and practical errors are unintentionally made when psychologists base their decisions on personality instruments, for example during selections. The decisions are usually based on the face value of the instrument, not considering the underlying dynamics of the culture and/or language groups involved. Therefore the need for a more extensive cross-cultural study on the BTI were identified to ensure fair usage thereof within South Africa. Verhoeven and De Jong (1992) indicated that the construct of language proficiency is very important for any cross-cultural study in a multicultural and multilingual environment. Since personality assessment is typically done in English, Prinsloo and Ebersöhn (2002) proposed that by testing respondents’ English proficiency, the psychologist can help to assess the impact of language proficiency on respondents’ performance on the personality instrument.

CONCEPTUALISATION OF PERSONALITY

Personality theory is not only complex due to the enormous range of dynamic elements influencing it, but the uniqueness of individuals also makes it difficult to fully define personality (Lamiel, 1997). A common way to describe personality is in terms of the core conceptual orientations such as structure, dynamics involved, development, assessment and changes in personality over time (Lamiel, 1997). Although there are many debates on the exact definition of personality, two major themes surface regularly, namely human nature and individual differences (McCrae & Costa, 1985a; 2004; Lee & Ashton, 2005; Pace & Brannick, 2010). Human nature deals with the general characteristics of humans that are universal, such as shared motives, goals and psychological processes (Briggs, 1989). Individual differences on the other hand, deal with the most important habits and behaviours in respect of which individuals differ.

The emic (indigenous) approach

In cross-cultural psychology the emic approach represents attempts to describe behaviour and psychological functioning from within a particular culture (Taylor, 2008). The emic (indigenous) approach utilises a culture-specific orientation relevant to the local context (Cheung, Cheung, Wada & Zhang, 2003). Dumont (2010) defined the term emic as the domain of behaviours found in a single society/culture or a cluster of related societies/cultures. In social psychology the indigenous (emic) approach was defined by Ho (1998) as the study of human behaviour and mental processes within a cultural context that are linked to specific values, beliefs, concepts and methodologies. With the emic approach the importance and meaningfulness of traits are investigated from within a particular culture (Church & Katigbak, 2000).

The etic (imposed/imported) approach

The etic approach represents attempts to describe behaviour and psychological functioning from outside the cultural system, and often involves the comparison of behaviour and psychological functioning between the different cultures (Taylor, 2008). The etic approach emphasises ‘core similarities’ in all human beings (Cheung et al., 2003). The dilemma with the etic approach is that, while researchers should be objective, their perspectives are often clouded by their own cultural experiences and concepts; therefore this strategy is seen as an ‘imposed’ strategy (the researcher imposes his/her own views on the interpretation of behaviour in the other culture) (Berry, 1969). In terms of personality assessment with the etic approach, one or more inventories that are imported from other countries or cultures are primarily used to measure and interpret personality traits for a local group (Nel, 2008).

TABLE OF CONTENT :

  • Page
  • DECLARATION
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
    • 1.1 BACKGROUND
    • 1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
    • 1.3 PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
    • 1.4 PSYCHOMETRIC ASSESSMENT AND LEGISLATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
      • 1.4.1 The Constitution of South Africa
      • 1.4.2 The Labour Relations Act
      • 1.4.3 The Employment Equity Act
      • 1.4.4 The Health Professions Act
    • 1.5 PERSONALITY THEORIES
    • 1.6 MULTICULTURAL AND MULTILINGUAL PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
    • 1.6.1 Bias and equivalence
    • 1.6.2 Multicultural and multilingual research in South Africa
    • 1.7 MEASUREMENT THEORIES
    • 1.7.1 Item Response Theory (IRT)
    • 1.7.2 Rasch analysis
    • 1.8 PERSONALITY INSTRUMENTS
      • 1.8.1 Personality instruments used in South Africa
      • 1.8.1.1 The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF)
      • 1.8.1.2 The Fifteen Factor Questionnaire (15FQ)
      • 1.8.2 Big Five and Five-Factor Model (FFM) as personality instruments used in South Africa
      • 1.8.2.1 The NEO PI-R
      • 1.8.2.2 The Basic Traits Inventory (BTI)
    • 1.9 RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESIS
    • 1.10 ASSUMPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS
    • 1.11 CHAPTER OVERVIEW
  • CHAPTER 2: PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
    • 2.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 2.2 CONCEPTUALISATION OF PERSONALITY
    • 2.2.1 Paradigms to describe personality
    • 2.2.2 Approaches to psychometric instrument development
      • 2.2.2.1 The emic (indigenous) approach
      • 2.2.2.2 The etic (imposed/imported) approach
      • 2.2.2.3 The lexical approach
    • 2.3 PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENTS
    • 2.4 TRAIT RESEARCH AS THE BASIS OF PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
    • 2.4.1 History and development of trait theory
  • CHAPTER 3: THE IMPACT OF LANGUAGE ON PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
    • 3.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 3.2 RESEARCH ON THE IMPACT OF LANGUAGE ON PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
    • 3.3 OFFICIAL LANGUAGES IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 3.4 LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY AND PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
    • 3.5 PROPOSED SOLUTIONS FOR MULTICULTURAL AND MULTILINGUAL CHALLENGES IN PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
    • 3.5.1 Multi-language personality norms
    • 3.5.1.1 Sample differences
    • 3.5.1.2 Cultural differences
    • 3.5.1.3 Translation differences
    • 3.6 TRANSLATION
    • 3.6.1 Translation of the 16PF (5th edition)
    • 3.6.2 Translation of the NEO PI-R
  • CHAPTER 4: METHODOLOGY
    • 4.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 4.2 PSYCHOMETRIC INSTRUMENTS
      • 4.2.1 Instruments for measuring English proficiency
      • 4.2.1.1 Reading comprehension
      • 4.2.1.2 Verbal reasoning
      • 4.2.2 Basic Traits Inventory (BTI) for measuring personality
    • 4.3 THE SAMPLE
    • 4.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
    • 4.5 THEORETICAL BASIS FOR MEASUREMENT
      • 4.5.1 Classical test theory (CTT)
      • 4.5.2 Modern test theory (MTT)
    • 4.6 COMPARISON OF MEASUREMENT THEORIES
    • 4.7 DATA ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
    • 4.8 STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
      • 4.8.1 Descriptive statistics
      • 4.8.2 Multivariate analysis – MANOVA
      • 4.8.3 MTT methods
      • 4.8.3.1 Fit indices
      • 4.8.3.2 Internal consistency reliability
      • 4.8.3.3 Differential item functioning (DIF)
    • 4.9 POSTULATES
      • 4.9.1 Item bias
    • 4.10 SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER 5: RESULTS
  • CHAPTER 6: DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

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THE IMPACT OF LANGUAGE ON PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT WITH THE BASIC TRAITS INVENTORY

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