Personality instruments can be split into trait (inferred behaviour) and typological (preferred behaviour) psychjometric instruments. Common examples of a trait instruments include the Hogan Personality Inventory and the FFM (Five Factor Model or OCEAN). Common examples of typological instruments include the MBTI® (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®) and Enneagram. The simile of 'left hand/right hand' can help to understand the difference more clearly.

Metaphorically, trait personality instruments measure how much skilled a person is with their right hand and their left (level of their ability), whereas type instruments identify whether the person is left or right handed, indicating which one they use more (linked to motivation which often leads to ability through practice).

Behaviour is a key controllable factor in performance, and it is a combination of what we can do (ability) and what we want to do (motivation). Ability is important and is trainable. In many ways motivation is much more important as it largely influences what we do in life, is not trainable, and usually underpins ability.

Personality Instruments - Type versus Trait

So there are basically two key types of personality instrument: Trait (e.g. Facet 5, OPQ, DiSC, the Hogan, Saville Wave, Pario Professional, etc) and Typological (MBTI®, Majors, Belbin Team Roles, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, Enneagram, 12 Archetypes, UHM, etc). The key organisational areas they are typically used are to support assessment (internal, such as promotion and external such as recruiting) and development (one-on-one such as coaching/mentoring, or in high performance team training).

It is summarised in the slide below:

Trait Type

1) Generally, Typological instruments are best for development and coaching whereas Trait instruments are best for assessment

a) With a Typological instrument, everyone has equal, and significant possibilities for their potential development. Conversely, a Trait tool by definition identifies some people as better than others and so by definition some of the group have “less development” than others, and this is not a good basis to maximise the learning for everyone.

b) When all participants feel they have equal amounts (albeit in differing areas) to develop they tend to remain open to the feedback as they do not feel judged or threatened by the effect on their employment or status. You can either assess or develop people – it is ineffective to try to do both at the same time as in this case people typically respond to it as if it is just assessment.

c) Typological instruments tend to be more extensive in the areas of personality they cover, providing insights into deep personality factors and ways to leverage off the person's strengths (their "accelerator") and minimize their development areas (their "brake"). Trait uinstruments tend to give wider but shallower insights.

2) Common mistakes when using psychometric instruments in organisations

a) Using a type tool for assessment and selection or a trait tool for training and development.

b) Not using a normative Type instrument for coaching or not using an ipsative (forced choice) Trait instruemnt for assessment.

UHM versus MBTI - Type versus Type

The MBTI is a very good model for understanding personality type and differences. It can be thought of as 16 different rooms on a floor and hence a 2-dimensional model. The UHM identifies the 7 "floors" the rooms can be on and is therefore 3-dimensional. So whereas the MBTI cannot explain differences between certain "types" - for example why two INFPs may be so different. The UHM can do so because of this extra dimension. So if the INFPs are different it will typically be because they are in the same "room" - the INFP room - but on different floors: one might be at the level of Compassion another at Power.

Technical Note:

Trait instruments take a `reductive' approach to behaviour and have better or worse profiles. They can provide a useful framework for understanding what coaching and developmental systems are needed in an organisation, and can support selection, recruitment and promotion systems in organizations. Whereas typological instruments take a `purposive' approach and have no best profile. They not only provide the best ways to develop, mentor, teach and coach people, but they also help to understand how the systems, structures and leadership affect performance more widely in the workplace.

The elements of the FFM (also known as the ‘Big Five’ personality traits) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® correlate very highly (to p>0.001). The UHM provides a major advantage over both these and other models because the UHM is a 3-dimensional model and so can pick up important things that other instruments are blind too. See UHM validity for more information.

The UHM is a "thematic Type" instrument as it integrates 7 of the world's major typologies (see the list at the bottom of this page).

It is also a holographic and 3-dimensional personality instrument, and so it provides the basis for excellent development, and it is supported by the latest neuroscience linked to personality style

The 7 Typologies integrated into the UHM:

  • Logotherapy
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®)
  • The Enneagram
  • Temperament Theory
  • Dynamic Theory of Neurosis
  • Body Types (Western=Sheldon's Body Types & Eastern=Ayurvedic Body Types)
  • The Twelve Archetypes

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Testimonial (read more...)

It was indeed an excellent session. As I shared with you I find the tool [UHM Report] very accurate and I believe will help me in self-development...I appreciate your help  - Rajeshwar Tripathi, Chief People Officer, Mahindra & Mahindra-Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors