Psychometric Tools for Diagnosing Adult Temperament

Psychometric Tools for Diagnosing Adult Temperament

"A plea for the study of individual differences, then, becomes a plea for the recognition of parameters."

Jan Strelau (1991) in exploring the renaissance in research on temperament identified 25 paper-and-pencil techniques for diagnosing temperament traits in adults. The traits measured include:

Huelsman (1983) identified three models of cognitive, learning and teaching styles: the Multiple Bi-Modal Dimensions Model, as exemplified by Jungian theory; the Bi-Polar Dimensions Model of which the work of Herman Witkin is an example, and; Multiple Dimensions Model as exemplified by the work of Joseph Hill. These same schemes have been proposed as complementary to temperament models. Similarly, the instrments designed to measure these proposed temperament models have also been proposed for cognitive and learning preference.

Instruments designed to measure the Jungian/Multiple Bi-Polar model include Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs' Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), David Keirsey's Temperament Sorter (KTS) David Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (LSI), and Anthony Gregorc's Gregoric Style Delineator (GSD). Exemplary of the Bi-Polar Model is Herman Witkin's research on Field Dependent-Independent reflected in the Embeded Figures Test (EFT) and group version (GEFT), and Jerom Kagan's Matching Familiar Figures Test (MFFT) and Conceptual Style Test (CST). The Multiple-Dimensions Model includes: the works of Rita and Kenneth Dunn and Gary Price's Learning Style Instrument (LSI) for children 3-12 and the PEPS instrument for adults; Albert Canfield's Learning Style Inventory (CLSI); Anthony Grasha and Sheryl Reichmann's Student Learning Style Scales (GRSLSS); Joseph Hill's Cognitive Style Inventory (CSI), and Marie Elkin's PACE Temerament Sorter Preference Indicator.

The psychometric instruments usd as indicators of temperament preference in children are typically obser-rated and exhibit low to moderate validity and reliability. One interpretation of the literature might be that these instruments are meant more for predicting unacceptable social behavior, predicting coping abilities and responses to stressors, or as an indicator of delinquent behavior, and less for matching learner preference with teaching style.

Similarly, adult temperament measures can arguably be categorized in this same stmulus-response manner. From the earliest categorization of the four temperaments by Hippocrates and galen to the works of Kretchmer, Jung and others, temperament is viewed as choices, tendencies, or preferences between behavior polarities. Teh research in adult temperament assessment tends to associate temperament preference to some measureable preference to some measureable form of success. Several instruments identified as adult temperament inventories are deisgned for children orare modification of research originally conducted with children. The majority of temperament instruments for adults utilize a self-rated scoring of scenarios using some form of Likert scale. With the exception of the MBTI, the majority of adult inventories lack statistical validity and reliability.

The term temperament in the literature for both children and adults is frequently used interchangeably with the encompassing term psychological or personality type. Temperament instruments overwhelmingly categorize children and adults into one of four, or multiples of two, modes. These categories represent behavior polarities-mirror images. The multiplicity of type suggests that the major dimensions of temperament cannot be regarded as so many factors, each of which being capable of independent appraisal. Their combinations do not give rise to even sets of two or four but to dozens of distinctive patterns as suggested by Diamond (1957) who concludes that it is unsatisfactory to classify individuals according to his one strongest temperamental disposition for the following reasons:

A more promising attempt to classify individuals, notes Diamond (1957), would be to select a minimum number of dimensions as a basis for description and allow these to vary independently in the individual case. Diamond adds that the most useful way to characterize the temperamental pattern of an individual is to discover this dyanmic pattern which tends to repeat itself in his experience under many diverse circumstances. This sentiment is parroted by Sheldon (1942), Thomas and Chess (1977), and other researchers who concude that an effective measure of individual temperament preference would require longitudinal studies under a variety of conditions. The literature suggests that existing temperament inventories, at best, represent a snapshot assessment of an individual for a particular time and environment.

Matching teaching style and learning styles may, as noted by Zarghani (1988), be erroneous since the methods for determining learning and teaching styles may not have sufficient research base to support their application in a learning environment. Zarghani also notes that neither learning styles nor teaching styles cluster neatly into packages and that matching may, in fact, be a disservice in not exposing students to a variety of teaching styles.

As many studies can be cited to support the advantages of matching teaching strategies as studies showing no statistical significance for creating a "goodness of fit." McCall (1986) in investigating the stability and continuity in temperament research poses the question,

The usefulness of temperament concepts might best be summarized by Bates (1994):

The merit behind the measurement of temperament is noted by Sheldon and Stevens (1942):

Finally, as Thomas and Chess (1977) note,

From the literature of published temperament, humoral, character, and psychological type theory and their related inventories, it can be seen that no one single temperament-based indicator for adults currently exists. The literature on temperament preference-as a component of the individual's cumulative tendency of perception, retention, and organization-has been associated with learning style preference. It is my theory that temperament preference is a characteristic indication of the learner's natural tendency of responding to and using stimuli in the context of learning. If temperament preference can be identified and measured by means of a paper-and-pencil questionnaire, then a matching of learner needs to the learning environment may avert a mismatching of interactions.

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    All contents copyright (C) 1995
    Peter L. Heineman
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