A new series on Radio 4 presented by Judith Hann provides a good introduction to the biology of personality. In particular it focusses on and explains some aspects of the widely used five-factor model of personality. The programme also addresses the biological basis of depression and its links with personality.
One applications of these personality tests is in job selection and career guidance. Jane Howard, author of The Owner’s Manual For Personality At Work, suggests that as many as 25% of people are in the wrong job. Perhaps personality testing can help people understand their own capabilities and limitations a little better.
It’s good to hear some critical notes sounded about self-report measures of personality. Matt Ridley points out that they may only be measuring people’s self-perception. Perhaps more dangerous is the element of political correctness in the way the results are presented. One of the scales is called ‘neuroticism’, a generally well understood word. This is often translated to ’emotional stability’, a more neutral phrase that actually obscures the meaning.
There is no supporting website for this programme but you can hear the audio stream online for 7 days after the broadcast. The first programme is now available online, so listen now while you can.
BBC RealAudio stream [via Mind Hacks]
Published: 16 March 2005