The Persnickety Pervasiveness of Rating Enhancement in Personality Assessment: The Self, the Other, and Then Again Yet Another

Alicia A. Stachowski, John T. Kulas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The current paper explores whether self and observer reports of personality are properly viewed through a contrasting lens (as opposed to a more consonant framework). Specifically, we challenge the assumption that self-reports are more susceptible to certain forms of response bias than are informant reports. We do so by examining whether selves and observers are similarly or differently drawn to socially desirable and/or normative influences in personality assessment. Targets rated their own personalities and recommended another person to also do so along shared sets of items diversely contaminated with socially desirable content. The recommended informant then invited a third individual to additionally make ratings of the original target. Profile correlations, analysis of variances (ANOVAs), and simple patterns of agreement/disagreement consistently converged on a strong normative effect paralleling item desirability, with all three rater types exhibiting a tendency to reject socially undesirable descriptors while also endorsing desirable indicators. These tendencies were, in fact, more prominent for informants than they were for self-raters. In their entirety, our results provide a note of caution regarding the strategy of using non-self informants as a comforting comparative benchmark within psychological measurement applications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychological Assessment
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • common method variance
  • personality assessment
  • profile correlations
  • self-ratings
  • social desirability

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