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Self Report Inventories

Self Report Inventories are personality assessment tools that tend to be more efficient, cost effective and reliable
than projective tests like the Rorschach. Projective tests rely on a client’s description of what he or she
perceives/projects based on psychological clues. In the Rorschach, the cues used are inkblots. The Self Report
Inventory, or SRI, relies less on open-ended responses and more on answers to specific questions. The questions
can be designed to elicit responses related to overall personality style, emotional state or perception of events.
Respondents most often select answers from a list rather than free-associating. Self Report Inventories are useful
for evaluating states of mind and personality type and can be adapted for use with differing populations

An SRI can be administered in less than 15 minutes when given in paper and pencil format. Computerized
scoring can be done for large numbers of tests, which saves time and is cost effective. It also allows researchers
to administer and score a large number of tests at the same time. Reliability is enhanced because test scoring can
be standardized and based on pre-established norms.

States of mind like depression and anxiety can be measured by self-report. The Beck Depression Inventory
(BDI) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) are tests that can be administered simply and quickly. Aaron A. Beck
developed these tools and several others before 1990. Both indicators use an intensity scale based on a person’s
self-report of the severity of certain symptoms. The inventories have adaptations for youth, geriatrics and other
populations. Other measures for depression exist such as the Major Depression Inventory and the Geriatric
Depression Scale.

Personality type is a common focus of SRI measures. These types of Self Report Inventories may take much
longer than a few minutes to complete; the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) can last up to
three hours. Employers, law enforcement, educators, child advocates and other professionals in a wide range of
settings utilize the MMPI. Another well-known SRI for personality type is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.
Israel Briggs Myers advocated the use of this instrument in virtually every person’s life to make perceptions
clearer and judgments more soundly. Many professional organizations rely on the MBTI and continue to study
its effectiveness in a variety of contexts. Other SRIs in use include the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire and
the California Personality Inventory.

Like any other psychological measure, the SRI is subject to bias. In recent years, concerns have arisen about the
application of SRI measures to certain population groups. Several studies have examined the cross-cultural
validity of Self Report Instruments, particularly the MMPI. Other drawbacks to using an SRI are related to the
possibility of incorrect or deceptive answers due to participant frustration or denial. When the test continues for a
particularly long time, answers given may not be accurate. Self-bias or lack of self-knowledge on the part of the
responder can influence the accuracy of the SRI as well. Still, the Self Report Inventory remains a staple of
psychological research because of its cost effective and efficient qualities.