Biological Theory and How it is Used to Conduct Assessments

 For thousands of years, many theorists have strongly maintained that the genetic make-up of humans determines their personality. These theorists argue that physical characteristics such as body type, height, eye color and general looks are strongly determined by biological component. Even though biology does not play a direct role in the personality of human beings, the way people look certainly affect how individuals view themselves and how they interact with others. This is a form of indirect effect that plays a big role in how human beings develop and who they are as adults. These statements explain why biological theory has stood out as one of the major personality theories for several years (Eysenck, 1967).

Several studies that utilize correlation studies have determined that certain aspects may be directly linked to genetic make-up of humans. However, the idea of inherited traits has been found to be partially correct. Even though biology plays a big role in acquired traits such as inherited intelligence, it is difficult to ignore the significance of the environment. Hans Eysenck is one theorist who believes that biological theory greatly determines personality of individuals, and he is one of the best known biological theorists in terms of personality development (Eysenck, 1967).

Biological theory has been used to conduct assessments in organizations to determine human qualities possessed by employees and managers, with the aim of understanding matters related to leadership, empathy, motivation, self-development, helping others, how they relate with others, and general behavior. According to Hans Eysenck, human traits can be divided into three dimensions namely; Introversion/Extraversion, Neuroticism/Emotional Stability, and Psychoticism.Direct attention to inner experiences is referred to as introversion, while focusing attention to the environment and other people is what extraversion entails. This dimension of Eysenck’s biological theory holds that an individual high in introversion might be reserved and quiet, while a person high in extraversion might be outgoing and sociable (Eysenck, 1967).

Neuroticism/Emotional Stability dimension of Eysenck’s biological or trait theory relates to moodiness versus even-temperedness. An individual who has the tendency to become emotional or upset is said to be neurotic, while emotionally constant individuals are said to be stable (Eysenck and Hepburn, 1989). Psychoticism dimension of Eysenck’s biological theory mainly concerns persons suffering from mental illness. Persons who are high in this third dimension of biological theory have problems dealing with reality and may be hostile, manipulative, antisocial and non-empathic. Many organizations apply biological or trait theory in assessments when they want to gain comprehensive understanding of management processes, selection, recruitment, teaching and training.

Personality Assessment Practices

            Two things that stand out in personality assessment practices are the usefulness of such practices to self and to others, and the importance of effective knowledge of supporting theory when conducting personality assessments. Management, relationships, motivation and communications that focus and self and others are extremely effective when one gains a personal understanding as well as the people they seek to manage, help, develop or motivate. Understanding personality through assessment practices is a key to gaining knowledge of self awareness which is useful in helping others achieve greater development too (Eysenck and Hepburn, 1989).

When one develops understanding of personality traits and thinking styles of others, he or she improves personal knowledge of behavior and motivation in the place of work and beyond. Additionally, understanding people’s personalities helps a person to appreciate that while individuals are different, everyone has special qualities, strengths and values, and that each and every person deserves careful and respectful treatment. Through personality assessment, one manages to understand that people exhibit different behaviors because they are different. Completing personality assessments without proper knowledge of supporting theories can be misleading and frustrating, particularly if proper explanation of results from personality testing is lacking (Eysenck and Hepburn, 1989).

Current research trend on biological theory

            The traditional beliefs that personal characteristics were exclusively inherited have now been replaced by modern theories that incorporate factors related to socialization, sexuality, environment, and parenting styles. Currently, biological components of personality have gained influence due to advancements of medical techniques and ideas. New discoveries such as those propelling genetic studies that dominate the field of science now open up completely new area of knowledge in the relationship between personality and biology (Eysenck, 1997). It is anticipated that people will be able to quantify the biological components of personality because it is impossible to absolutely eliminate subjectivity just like in other areas of psychology. As researchers continue to explore the development of human personality, they will continue to focus on the role of biology as well as that of evolution. Interpretations of the new findings and anticipations may however differ across cultures due to variations in values, customs and beliefs as far as creation and the origin of mankind is concerned (Eysenck, 1997).

Possible questions

  1. How accurate are personality assessments?

The accuracy of personality assessments is determined by reliability and validity of the assessment process. An assessment is considered reliable if it is able to yield similar results every time it is conducted because personality is relatively stable. An assessment is considered valid if it measures what is it intended to measure or if it proves the researcher’s predictions (Eysenck, 1997).

  1. How can one increase the accuracy of personality assessments?

Accuracy of personality assessments can be increase by using a combination of three assessment techniques namely; subjective tests, objective tests and projective tests which involve gathering information through interview, utilizing research to determine results, and using tests that uncover desires, emotions and thoughts respectively (Eysenck, 1997).

  1. How can one go about determining if a personality feature or trait is inherited through biology or environment?

By studying the role of environmental and genetic factors through convenience or manipulation, one will be able to determine whether a certain personality is inherited through biology or the environment. For example, examining fraternal twins raised apart will provide useful information related to inherited traits, while investigating adopted siblings without any biological relationship will provide important information related to environmental factors that shape personality (Eysenck, 1997).

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