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J une 1986

L aurence P altiel
In t he past fou r years the use o f self-appraisal
personality i nventories in p ersonnel selection has
risen at an a ccelerated rate. If o ne is t o b elieve
d istributors, over a m illion c andidates have been
asked t o c omplete o ne o f a range o f such
ins truments w ithin t his period . W hilst c ompetit ionb etween t he v anous d istributors o f t hese i nventories
is increasing, there is no sign that the demand has
reached a plateau. The British Psychological
Soci ety's (BPS) T est Standards C ommittee has not
concealed i ts concern. In r esponse t o n umerous
l etters f rom m embers, it r ecently w rote to p ersonnel
journals d enying T homas I nternational c laims that
t heir PersonalProfile Analysis (PPA) w as BPS
approved. A l etter a lso appeared in t he BPS B ulletin
to th is effect. NFER-NE LSON, a m ajor publisher and
d istributor o f t est m aterials in t he UK, have started
distributing t he v ery s imilar PAL Personality Profile
S ystem (PPS) u nder l icence . In r esponse t o t he
reaction f rom m any o f t heir c lients, t hey have
initiated a l ow p rofile study i nto t he s ystem. SHL also
considered it w orthwhile c onducting a c omparative
study o f t heir O ccupational Personality
Ouestionnaire and the PPS, d istributed by NFER NELSON t o add t o t he ir validity section.
W e have obtained seven self-appraisal personality
inventories, each claiming t o m easure t he s ame f our
p ersonality categories: Dominance, In fluence,
Steadiness andC omplia:lce. The tra it n ames are n ot
always t he s ame b ut t he d escript ions remain a lmost
identical. In addition to t he PPS and PPA above,
Cleaver, P erformax, M cQuaig all p roduce a similar
self-descriptive questionnaire. A r ecent a ddition t o
this series w hich w e have n ot y et s een is BEST.
In t he l atter t he p ersonality traits measured are Bold,
Expressive, S ympathicand Technical . In a ddition
there also exists a c omputer p rogram, Life-Line,
directed at t he g ames m arket. available f or Sinclair
S pectrums and BBC m icros (at £14.99) w hich
a dministers t he t est and provides an interpretation.
Each o f t he a bove share a c ommon a ncestry.
Examination o f t he r espective materials revea ls t hat.
in addition t o t he c ategories, t hey sharem ost o f t he
adjectives w hich f orm t he basis o f t he self-appraisal.
These it is claimed are based on t he r oot w ords o f
William M arston (1928) . Publication dates on t he
m aterials provide a clue t o t heir origins. C leaver's
Self-description w as f irst m ade c ommercially
available in 1959, McOuaig in 1961, P erform ax 1977,
Thomas International P PAin 1981 and PAL PPS in1985. Each claims copyright o f t heir materials. The
Cleaver, T homas PPA and PAL PPS also share the
same technical manual. Thomas has copied it into
their o wn f ormat w hereas PAL use t he Cleaver
original w ith t he a uthor's p ermission. Performax is
identical t o t he T homas PPA in o rder o f p resentation
and 9 4 o ut o f 9 6 items b ut has its o wn ' technical'
manual as d oes McQuaig w hich is least like t he
o thers. The Life-Line p rogram's i tems are closest t o
t hose in Performax, PPA and Cleaver although they
t oo m aintain copyright.

V olume 2(3)

The claims and uses m ade b y each o f t he
d istributors vary considerably. H AY/MSL, w hose US
o peration acquired t he C leaver b usiness in t he US
use it as a counselling and train ing d evice in limitedsituations. Li fe Skills A ssociates m arket P erformax
f or m anagement d evelopment o r t eam b uilding and
play d own t he s election e lement . O ne o f t heir
manuals, h owever, c laims t he t est as a 'splendid
m anagement t ool' f or s election as w ell as
placement. career guidance and resolving
interpersonal c onflict. M cQuaig's s ale UK distributor,
Svend H olst e mphasizes its u...
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