March 2011

IZA DP No. 5605: Identification Problems in Personality Psychology

published in: Personality and Individual Differences, 2011, 51 (3), 315-320

This paper discusses and illustrates identification problems in personality psychology. The measures used by psychologists to infer traits are based on behaviors, broadly defined. These behaviors are produced from multiple traits interacting with incentives in situations. In general, measures are determined by these multiple traits and do not identify any particular trait unless incentives and other traits are controlled for. Using two data sets, we show, as an example, that substantial portions of the variance in achievement test scores and grades, which are often used as measures of cognition, are explained by personality variables.