A more complete conceptualization of personality psychology points to many ways in which multiple methods can be brought to bear on the study of personality. First, within each domain of traits, motives, abilities, and narratives there are rich methodological traditions and differences. So, for example, traits have often been assessed using self-reports of typical behaviors. Similarly, motives and goals have been assessed from the perspective of the person (e.g., S data) and the psychologist who interprets a projective test such as the TAT (e.g., O data). Cognitive ability has been traditionally assessed through tests of maximal performance (e.g., T data), but can also be assessed via self-reports. In contrast, the narrative approach focuses on open-ended interviews, written responses, or biographical documents to understand individual differences (e.g., L data).
The field of personality typically utilizes diverse methods in an attempt to understand how individuals differ from one another. This also makes studies that combine assessments from each of these disparate domains intrinsically multimethod studies. We highlight examples of these types of studies from each domain.
There are more traditional multimethod approaches within each domain of personality. For example, within the domain of personality traits, evaluating the efficacy of self-reports and observer ratings has been a constant struggle for several decades. Within the motives domain a long-standing controversy has been whether to assess motives using implicit or explicit techniques. We will highlight studies within each domain that have endeavored to use more than one method within domain.
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