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I always had difficulty using the tests which aims to « measure » the characteristics of a person from a questionnaire which is answered at a particular time. The objective of these tests is to match either people together or an individual with a job or a profile with a culture. So people’s behavioural dimensions are mathematically measured in order to assign them a personality from a predefined and fixed grid.

In addition to the question of what is the purpose of classifying people or classifying ourselves into categories, this approach obviously poses some problems.

The first issue is that test and questionnaires are never neutral and reflect cultural representations of the tests’ writer. For example, depending on how an organization values the risks or the adaptability, the wording of the questions may change. Let’s take a typical test sample on the adaptability based on questions to which you have to answer by checking one answer amongst four:

« In the morning you open your closet, you choose an outfit:

  • In line with your employer’s code

  • Who hides your little overweight,

  • Which is comfortable,

  • That highlights you »

Decoding: the question assumes that the person has an employer and may have weight problems (question does not arise in some countries so we can suppose that the tester lives in a economically-developed country); then one wonders for whom and why it must be practical, and also that appearance is very important (is it?), etc.

Not only the cultural assumptions of such questions are numerous, but also depending on our daily moods, the responses may differ. So what if the day of job tests, you are not in the required mood; you will be anyway categorized without possibility of appealing as you are the one who answered to the questions. It happened to me: I was not recruited by an NGO because the test results showed a too high capacity of assuming risks and therefore deviant compared to societal norms. Judgment and categorization are terrible tools when recruiting.

You understand why I do not use questionnaires or pre-programmed tests to understand personalities with their expectations or fears, but the grid constructed Kelly[1].
What is briefly his method? From an interview on the basis of an objective pursued by the person, representative objects or topics that objectives are identified (e.g. cars, Self and close referents, options). Then the person identifies all possible alternatives for reaching her/his goal as well as the indicators of personal success or failure in relation to the pursued objective. Then the alternatives are reviewed and compared against these criteria.

Throughout the interview, keywords, phrases, are those of the person and not of the coach who has to really listen without prior judgement. The psycho-coach must not only decode the client’s environment (company, school, family business…) but also and because a goal can only exist in a given space-time, at a specific time of an individual and collective evolution, s/he must listen without judgment to understand the client’s representations (constructs).

Beyond the method, this approach is based on a specific conception of human being, that of a free, responsible individual, evolving and acting on, a human being who knows his objectives and seeks to overcome his fears. This is opposed to the idea that all individuals are functioning on the same templates, made up with measurable and measured traits so that they can fit into a small number of cases from which they cannot get out.

Rather than adopting such a deterministic vision of the individual, the existential approach adopts an evolutionary perspective. Its purpose is to understand and help individuals achieving their goal, their purpose in life, to make them aware that their personal goals may be different from the ones that suggested by their environment (family, business, culture); In other words, to become master of their destiny and that they are not locked into categories which are so useful in terms of power and control.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Kelly_(psychologist)

 

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