Western University PsychologyFaculty of Social Science

Psychology 3580F-001

Research in Personality Assessment

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


Addresses reliability and validity issues as well as several contemporary topics in assessment such as multitrait-multimethod analysis, personality testing in personnel selection and control of dissimulation or “faking” of personality test responses.  The course includes a hands-on research component.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2800E and 2810, plus registration in third or fourth year Honours Specialization in Psychology or Honours Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.


Third or fourth year Psychology Majors and Psychology Special Students who earn 70% or higher in Psychology 2820E (or 60% or higher in Psychology 2800E and 2810) also may enrol in this course.

2 lecture hours, 2 laboratory hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


Instructor:                                  Richard (call me Rick) Goffin, Ph.D.; goffin@uwo.ca

Office and Phone Number:        Rm. SSC8406; 519-661-2111, Ext.84641

Office Hours:                             Just email me to arrange a meeting.

T.A./Lab Instructor:                   Kabir Daljeet, Ph.D. Candidate,  kdaljeet@uwo.ca, SSC8434

Office Hours:                             Just email to arrange a meeting.

Time and Location of Lectures: Tues. 9:30-11:30am in STVH-2166

Time and Location of Labs:       Thurs. 9:30-11:30am in STVH-2166

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit:  http://www.uwo.ca/uwocom/mentalhealth/ for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


No specific textbook is required but readings will be assigned on a weekly basis in accordance with the lecture schedule in this document.



This course familiarizes the student with research on several key topics in the assessment of individual differences such as the use of personality assessment in pre-employment testing; “faking” of personality test responses and control of “faking” of personality test responses; multitrait-multimethod analysis. In so doing, this course will improve skills in evaluating research in the assessment of individual differences and developing research ideas. The lab component of the course is designed to develop applied and conceptual skills relevant to the assessment of individual differences.


After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:



PLEASE NOTE:  Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations (http://www.westerncalendar.uwo.ca/2017/pg108.html), you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/academic_policies/general/grades_undergrad.pdf ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


Test. There will be one 2-hour test consisting of questions varying in length from short answer to essay. The test will be held on Tuesday, November 7 (during the regular class time slot) and will cover all the lecture and reading material covered up to that point. The test will be worth 25% of the final course grade.


Essay and Presentation. An APA-formatted essay of 2500 words (not counting references) will be due on Thursday, December 7 by 11:55p.m (submitted via the “assignments” section of the course website and checked by turnitin.com [see Section 8.0 of this outline]). More details on the content and structure of the essay and late penalties will be provided early in the semester. A class presentation for each student, directly related to their essay topic, will be scheduled during the last part of the semester. Details regarding the structure of the presentation, length of time, etc., will be provided by the instructor early in the semester. The essay and presentation combined will account for a total of 35% of the final grade. (30% essay plus 5% presentation).


Participation. It is expected that students will become actively involved in discussions and will prepare for class by doing the assigned readings and reflecting upon them. Active participation is also expected in the laboratory sessions. A total of 10% of the final grade will be accounted for by participation (5% from class participation plus 5% from laboratory participation).


Laboratory Component. The laboratory component of the course will take place on Thursdays. The lab component will be worth 30% of the final grade (in addition to the 5% for laboratory participation as mentioned above). A total of 15% of the final course grade will be accounted for by the first two laboratory assignments, which will be graded no later than Thursday November 9. Further details on the breakdown of lab grade will be provided during the first lab.


The list and ordering of topics follows. Reading assignments for each topic are indicated, but may be modified as necessary on an ongoing basis. Any modifications to the lecture schedule will be announced in the lecture or lab. Availability of the readings will be discussed by the instructor. A schedule for the lab component of the course will be provided during the first lab session.


  1. September 12: Course Overview


  1. September 19: Essential Measurement Issues in Personality Assessment: Reliability


Murphy, K.R., & Davidshofer, C. O. (2005). Psychological testing: Principles and Applications (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Chapters 6 and 7, pp. 116-152. Note: Do not bother to read the sections on “Reliability of Difference Scores,” “Reliability of Composite Scores,” and “Reliability of Criterion-Referenced Tests.” NOT A PDF


  1. September 26: Essential Measurement Issues in Personality Assessment: Validity


Murphy, K.R., & Davidshofer, C. O.  (2005). Psychological testing: Principles and Applications (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Chapters 8 and 9, pp. 153-201. Note: Do not bother to read the section on “Tests and Decisions” or the material on pages 192-198. NOT A PDF



  1. October 3: Personality Assessment and Pre-employment Testing: Basic Issues


Goffin, R. D., Rothstein, M. G., Reider, M. J., Poole, A., Krajewski, H. T., Powell, D. M., Jelley, R. B., Boyd, A. C., & Mestdagh, T. (2011). Choosing job-related personality traits:  Developing valid personality-oriented job analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 646-651. PDF


Raymark, P. H., Schmit, M. J., & Guion, R. M. (1997). Identifying potentially useful personality constructs for employee selection. Personnel Psychology, 50, 723-736. PDF


Tett, R. P., Jackson, D. N., & Rothstein, M., (1991). Personality measures as predictors of job

performance: A meta-analytic review. Personnel Psychology, 44, 703-742. PDF


  1. October 17 and 24: Personality Assessment and Pre-employment Testing: Faking of Personality Test Responses


Blasberg, S.A., Rogers, K.H., & Paulhus, D.L. (2013). The Bidimensional Impression Management Index (BIMI): Measuring agentic and communal forms of impression management. Journal of Personality Assessment, 96, 523-531.


Christiansen, N. D., Goffin, R.D., Johnston, N. G., & Rothstein, M. G. (1994). Correcting the 16PF for faking: Effects on criterion‑related validity and individual hiring decisions. Personnel Psychology, 47, 847-860. PDF


Donovan, J.J., Dwight, S.A., & Hurtz, G.M. (2003). An assessment of the prevalence, severity, and verifiability of entry-level applicant faking using the randomized response technique. Human Performance, 16, 81-106. PDF


Dwight, S.A., & Donovan, J.J.  (2003). Do warnings not to fake reduce faking?  Human Performance, 16, 1‑23. PDF


Fan, J., Gao, D., Carroll, S. A., Lopez, F. J., Tian, T. S., & Meng, H. (2012). Testing the efficacy of a new procedure for reducing faking on personality tests within selection contexts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(4), 866–80. PDF


Goffin. R.D., & Boyd, A.C. (2009). Faking and personality assessment in personnel selection: Advancing models of faking. Canadian Psychology, 50, 151-160. PDF


Goffin, R.D., Jang, I., & Skinner, E. (2011). Forced-choice and conventional personality assessment: Each may have unique value in pre-employment testing. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 840-844. PDF


Jackson, D. N., Wroblewski,V. R., & Ashton, M. C. (2000). The impact of faking on employment tests: Does forced choice offer a solution? Human Performance, 13,  371‑388. PDF


Rosse, J. G., Stecher, M. D., Miller, J. L., & Levin, R. A. (1998). The impact of response distortion on preemployment personality testing and hiring decisions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 634-644. PDF


  1. October 31: Conclusion of Personality Assessment and Pre-employment Testing and Review for Test


  1. November 7: Test


  1. November 14, November 21, November 28, & December 5: Student presentations.


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:  http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/academic_policies/appeals/scholastic_discipline_undergrad.pdf

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and Turnitin.com http://www.turnitin.com

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at:

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:  http://registrar.uwo.ca

Student Development Services web site: http://www.sdc.uwo.ca

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:


- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.

Maintaining a Complete Set of Notes is Your Responsibility

Through no fault of your own, you may, occasionally, miss a lecture. However, it is very likely that each and every lecture will be covered to some extent in the test. In order to avoid having an incomplete set of lecture notes when it’s time to study for the test, I recommend finding two or three classmates early on in the year whom you are comfortable sharing notes with in the event that one of you should miss a lecture. Remember to get contact information from these classmates so that you can get in touch with them on short notice if need be. If you miss a lecture, be sure to contact these colleagues ASAP so that you can get caught up and not be confused by later lectures that may well presume that you are already familiar with the material that was covered in the lecture that you missed. Please be advised that I do not lend my lecture notes, and it is simply not feasible for me to repeat lectures for individual students, even if the test is the next day!


Learn and Study Productively

If you feel that your progress in this course, or at Western in general, is not what it should be as a result of your study skills, habits, or personal problems, you may wish to utilize the Student Development Centre (SDC):  http://www.sdc.uwo.ca . A wide range of helpful services are offered there, including learning skills services, which you can find out more about through this link: www.sdc.uwo.ca/learning/ .

Additionally, the academic counsellors in your Dean’s office may be able to help you with a variety of issues.


“Turnaround Time” for Grading

Test results will ordinarily be provided to you two weeks after the test date.


*The dates mentioned in this outline could be changed by the instructor. Sufficient notice will be given for any such changes and they will be announced in class or lab or on the course’s OWL website.