The Individual’s Personality

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Personality is made up with how an individual thinks, feels, and by how they behave. A Personality psychologist named Henry Murray exclaimed that there are four different clues to personality. These clues are S (self-reports) data, I (informants’ reports) data, L (life outcomes) data, and B (behavioral observations) data. By piecing these four clues together, you are forming a clear, useful representation of the individual’s personality (Funder, 2016, P. 23-25). You must also make sure that your qualitative data is a form of reliability, validity, and generalizability.

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Data that is reliable is something that is dependable and the information measures what you are trying to assess. (Funder, 2016, P. 45). Data is considered valid when the measurement reflects what one’s thoughts or goals are. For data to be valid, it must also be reliable (Funder, 2016, P. 49). Data that is generalized is information that is broken down into two concepts, but are viewed as a single, broader concept. It is a distinction between reliability and validity. (Funder, 2016, P. 50).

If I wanted to know all about the personality of the person sitting next to me, I would first have the individual provide me details about his or her life. This is S data. S data is found when asking the person directly. Using this clue can really help you connect with someone’s feelings and thoughts on a much simpler level. (Funder, 2016, P. 24, 25). Next, I would ask people that know the individual to describe what they know about him or her. This is I data. I data is found when asking somebody who knows the individual. Some of the data could be reliable, but it could also be false information (Funder, 2016, P. 24, 25, 29). Then, I would check on the individual’s progress in life. This is L data. L data is found when looking for an individual’s life outcomes. It could be easily verified due to records, statements, and files (Funder, 2016, P. 24, 25, 35). Finally, I will closely look at an individual’s behavior. This is B data. B data is found when observing the behavior of an individual as directly and objectively as possible. Due to observing an individual’s real life, you are gathering realistic data (Funder, 2016, P. 24, 25, 38).

After gathering all my data, I must plan out a research design on all the information I have collected. I can do this by participating in a case method, experimental method, or a correlational method study. For you to test the ideas from a case study, you must participate in experimental and correlational studies too. A case method is studying a person or event to find out as much information as you can. Once you have found out as much as you possibly can, then this idea can be checked through experimental and correlational studies. These two methods access the relationship between the variables (Funder, 2016, P.54, 55). If I have already found out as much as I possibly can about an individual’s personality, I can measure the different data and identify one’s behavior. I will also be able to determine if there is a potential relationship between the data.

One of the clues to personality that most people are likely to rely upon when first getting to know a person is S data. S data can be easily found by asking the person directly. I believe that most people rely on the individual opening up and sharing large amounts of information based off their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This type of data is considered reliable information due to the individual being the expert about themselves (Funder, 2016, P. 25). An example of S data would be a questionnaire. According to the textbook “The Personality Puzzle”, David C. Funder(2016) states, “The questionnaires used to gather S data have what is called face validity-they are intended to measure what they seem to measure on their face” (P.25). Personality questionnaires that make up a face-valid S data could include different scales and to be answered True or False questions. For a True or False questionnaire, a True answer is assumed to reflect friendliness whereas a False answer would increase the friendliness test score (Funder, 2016, P.25).

In addition, another clue to personality that most people are likely to rely upon when first getting to know a person is I data. I data can also be simple to find when asking somebody who knows the individual. Most people rely on other people to know large amounts of information about an individual. All that person need to do is ask around. Some of the data you receive may be true, but most people don’t think about how it could be false due to limited behavioral information, and a lack of access to private experience. This type of data is subjective, judgmental, and their use is not limited to describing humans. (Funder, 2016, P. 25, 29). You may also come across some bias. An example of I data would be a letter of recommendation. If you are trying to get an exemplary job or into the school of your dreams, you are probably going to have to provide a letter of recommendation. Most managers and schools insist on receiving one. This letter provides the writer’s thoughts and opinions on the individual (Funder, 2016, P. 25, 29).

People sometimes describe themselves differently than they are described by others (a discrepancy between S data and I data), and they sometimes describe themselves differently from how they act (a discrepancy between S data and B data). In the article “Psychometric Comparison of Self- and Informant-Reports of Personality, Thomas M. Olino and Daniel N. Klein(2015) stated, ”Discrepancies between self-and informant- reports can come from at least three plausible sources: self-report biases, access to different information, and psychometric differences across informants”. When directly approaching a person with questions, it may bias sets of responses due to the individual having implicit theories about psychological assemblies that influence responses on multiple items (Olino and Klein, 2015). This also might occur due to all the different combinations and mixtures of data. All data clarifies what information is not included in the other types of data, and they all increase their own possible risks for error (Funder, 2016, P. 45). Although each set of data comes with advantages, we also have to look out for the disadvantages that could interfere with our understanding of an individual’s personality.

When these kinds of data disagree with each other, I would tend to believe B data over S and I data. Sometimes people will describe themselves as someone they are not. Directly asking someone questions may seem like the best way to get to know someone, but observing the way that individual interacts with others, and the way they go about their everyday life provides more realistic data. Also, if the information you are receiving from acquaintances do not match what the individual has already described to you, then you will know that there is false information somewhere in the data. This makes S and I data not so reliable. For example, if there is a hybrid between B data and S data, people would say what they think they would do, but probably would never follow through with it. This is sometimes called a behavioroid. A behavioroid is what people think they would do in certain situations (Funder, 2016, P. 44).

Overall, personality is made up of one’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and behavior. There are four types of data available for the studying of personality. Those four types of clues are S (self-reports) data, I (informants’ reports), L (life outcomes) data, and B (behavioral observations) data (Funder, 2016, P.25, 62). Conclusions about one’s personality should be drawn from the data, and it can vary in quality. Good quality data should be reliable, valid, and generalized (Funder, 2016, P. 63).

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The Individual's Personality. (2022, Jun 20). Retrieved from