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    Critical review and discussion of contemporary personality theory and its assessment; quantitative approaches to the development and evaluation of personality measures.

    Personality psychology is a cornerstone of psychological science. Every human being has a personality and it is well-established that an individual’s personality traits interact with the environment in the production of behaviour in virtually every context.

    This paper will explore core concepts in contemporary personality science (e.g. nature of personality, stability of personality over time, biological influences in personality development) as well as how personality traits are measured and how to develop and evaluate such measures quantitatively.

    About this paper

    Paper title Personality and Measurement
    Subject Psychology
    EFTS 0.0833
    Points 10 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $723.96
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

    Entry into Psychology 400-level normally requires a major in Psychology, a B+ average or higher in Psychology 300-level papers, and a pass in PSYC 311 Quantitative Methods. Students from other universities must show evidence of an equivalent level of competence.


    Teaching staff

    Professor Martin Sellbom

    Paper Structure

    The paper will be divided into two main sections.

    The first section will cover core topics in personality psychology. Students are assigned one or two journal articles or book chapters for each class session, which serve as supplemental foundation for lectures and class discussion, as well as a source of marked student group presentations (which should serve to facilitate discussion).

    The first term paper will include a research review paper on a contemporary personality project (from a list of options) that will culminate in the proposal of a set of original research questions to further advance the literature in this area.

    The second part of the paper will involve theoretical and applied knowledge of personality assessment, scale development and evaluation, and quantitative methods that serves as the basis for such evaluation. This section will be applied and skills-focused with the application of psychometric and statistical knowledge being demonstrated and discussed.

    The second term project will involve the evaluation of a personality measure, which will include statistical data analysis (e.g. confirmatory factor analysis or item response theory), based on the applied skills gained during the second part of the paper. A final exam will cover all lectures and readings.

    Teaching Arrangements

    Weekly seminar which typically lasts 180 minutes. Each seminar will be a mixture of lecture, group discussion, and small-group presentations on reading materials.


    No textbook will be required. All required readings (book chapters, journal articles) will be listed on the course syllabus.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised

    Scholarship, Research, Critical thinking, Global perspective, Communication, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:

    1. Understand and integrate the core issues and findings in personality science
    2. Engage in critical analysis and scientific discussion of personality psychology research
    3. Design, conduct, and present original personality psychological questions of interest to them
    4. Understand and integrate knowledge and skills about quantitative methods to evaluate personality (and other psychological) scale development efforts in the literature and applied research


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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