Good Morning Esteemed Colleagues and Dr. Terzino,
Today I will be sharing some comparisons and contrasts on the use of checklists and rating scales in assessing personality. Included in this comparison will be an examination of the types, strengths and weaknesses, reliability, validity, ethical concerns and demographic issues. I will also determine when one of these methods might be preferred over the other. I will conclude this post with an explanation of the clinical judgement issues that might play a role in using these methods to assess personality.
Checklists can be defined as tools to identify the presence or absence of some criteria. Essentially, checklists are used to identify whether or not something has been done, or there is the presence of some criteria. Conversely, rating scales are used when a researcher wants to assess some level of performance. A rating scale is different than a checklist in that a checklist determines yes or no, and a rating scale determines the degree to which a respondent feels about the criteria being measured (Mills, 2014). For example, a checklist might ask “I feel good today”, where as a rating scale might ask the same question, but give a range of strongly disagree to strongly agree.
The strengths of both checklists and rating scales in assessing personality is that both are commonly used in assessing behavioral criteria. Both are relatively easy to assemble and administer. Disadvantages to both are that they are only as good as the questions being asked. If there is a question that is ambiguous to the subject, the results may compromise validity.
Since we are discussing behavior and personality, there is some degree of interpretation of the prompts used in the scale. For example, going back to “I feel good today” example. The term good has various meanings depending on the individual. Do I mean physically good? Mentally good? I am behaving in an acceptable way (I am being good)? Because of the various interpretations, both checklists and rating scales can have dubious validity and reliability results. Based on my experience in developing these things, I think it is best to be very clear in the design of the question prompt as to avoid potential misinterpretation.
As far as preference of one over the other, it depends on the study, and the type of data the researcher is after. Although a checklist is easier to design, and faster for the respondent, the quality of data may not be as robust as the data gleaned from a rating scale. Since these are simple instruments to administer, Reynolds & Livingston (2013) suggest that they could be administered multiple times to get a sense of how a subject responds over different time periods, or in different situations.
As I mentioned in DF1 this week, clinical judgement is a term typically used in the medical field to determine the best course of diagnosis and treatment for a patient (subject) (Landrum, 2013). In respect to assessing personality, a clinical judgement issue is determining the best process for gathering data and then evaluating the data to make sense of the situation. Given the data gathered from checklists or rating scales, it is up to the clinician to determine how to interpret and apply that data.
Landrum, R. E. (2013). Research design for educators: Real-world connections and applications. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Mills, G. E. (2014). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Reynolds, C. R., & Livingston, R. B. (2013). Mastering modern psychological testing: Theory & methods. Pearson Higher Ed. ISBN-10: 020548350X • ISBN-13: 9780205483501