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Traitify Whitepaper

Introduction

At Traitify, personality is part of everything we do, beginning with our visual personality assessments to our delivery method through an API. With each of our offerings, our aim is to amplify the users’ experiences by easily allowing for the capture of real personality data for a higher degree of match, engagement and even recommendation than ever before. During the course of this white paper, you’ll not only learn about our methodology, but you’ll also discover what makes us and our visual personality assessment so unique.

About The Authors

Dr. Noreen Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Psychology at Traitify. As a founding member of the team, Dr. Honeycutt pioneered Traitify’s system of embedding psychodynamic theory and using images as the central theme of an assessment, along with a clear binary decision to determine personality. Dr Honeycutt utilized her network of A+ fellow psychoanalyst and psychotherapist colleagues to help nail down the underlying logic of the Traitify system.

Beyond her work at Traitify, Dr. Honeycutt is also a Training, Supervising, and Teaching Analyst with the Baltimore Washington Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She maintains a private practice in Baltimore where she sees individuals and couples. Dr. Honeycutt is a Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland, Department of Psychiatry. In addition, Dr. Honeycutt is involved in an array of community outreach programs such as the Psychoanalytic Case Conference, the BWCPP Film Series and a One Year Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Course in Baltimore.

Lauren Scott Janssen, MSW, is the Psychology Director at Traitify. Ms. Janssen was the first person Dr Honeycutt called upon to help her think through and design this new way of assessing personality. As the Director, Ms Janssen ensures the team is organized and always moving ahead, helping to create new products, collaborating with designers and developers and working with outside partners.

Ms. Janssen comes to Traitify with extensive clinical therapeutic experience. She has served as the Assistant Outpatient Program Director at the Harford-Belair Community Mental Health Center, where she practiced as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. Ms. Janssen is a 2005 graduate of the Columbia University School of Social Work and has completed a postgraduate psychotherapy training program at the Baltimore Washington Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Ms. Janssen has also taught in the 1-Year Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Course in Baltimore for the BWCPP.

Beverly Betz, MSW, BCD-P, is the Vice President of Psychology at Traitify. Ms. Betz is the newest member and brings years of clinical, supervisory and teaching experience to the team. Ms. Betz works with Dr. Honeycutt on creating and refining Traitify Assessments using cutting edge psychological science.

In addition to her work at Traitify, Ms. Betz maintains a private practice of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and supervision in Baltimore. After completing Master’s degrees at Johns Hopkins University, Loyola College, and University of Maryland at Baltimore, Ms. Betz engaged in further study at the International Psychotherapy Institute and the Baltimore Washington Institute for Psychoanalysis where she completed analytic training. She is a Teaching Analyst at the Baltimore Washington Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, where she serves as President.

What is Personality?

The Encyclopedia of Psychology

Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole.

At Traitify, we describe personality as the unique and complex combination of characteristics, temperaments and traits that form an individual’s enduring character. This individual constellation informs patterns of behavior, preferences, and choices. Personality reflects an individual’s consistent patterns of viewing him/herself, and relating to other people and the world.

Understanding personality can illuminate how one copes with emotions, engages in problem-solving, makes decisions, how one is drawn to certain types of people, and the experience of oneself as an individual. Additionally, when looking at the assessment results of a group of people, understanding different personalities and how they work together provides important insights for team building, matchmaking, and interpersonal dynamics.

For example, here are a few words that would describe a persons personality at work: Action-Taker, Analyzer, Inventor, Mentor, Naturalist, Planner and Visionary.

Personality Types and Traits

Every person is measured to a degree on every one of these personality types. Also, as you will see as you read on, each combination (and even the underlying traits) reveals more and more about the individual.

The goal of each of these models is to identify the measurable tendencies and patterns that are strongly correlated with one another. While an individual personality always has its distinct fingerprint, there are observable patterns and styles that cluster and allow for prediction in terms of behavior, preferences, and tendencies.

Why Measure Personality?

Understanding one’s personality can shed light on:

  • coping with emotions
  • thinking through challenges in order to make decisions
  • choosing types of people for relationships
  • preferences for leisure time
  • consumer decisions
  • knowing oneself

To use personality information, you need to look deeper, within a persons overall character, to the trait level. It is in personality traits that the unique nuances and particular aspects of personality are revealed.

Significantly, personality traits exist in varying intensities and they are context specific. For example, an individual would fall somewhere on a spectrum when measuring the traits of daring and cautious, or between the poles of passivity and aggression. Similarly, it is not uncommon for an individual to be daring in one context, like business, but cautious in another, such as romantic relationships.

Therefore, it is important to measure personality from many different angles and to recognize the vast combination of traits that comprise a total personality. It is in the identification of the many co-existing facets of personality that the individual’s profile can be most valuable.

We live in an ever-more personalized society, and it is becoming increasingly more important to know our strengths when making important life choices. Traitify offers this information to our users with statistically reliable personality tests.

Self-awareness leads to a sense of empowerment. By offering this type of personality information in a simple, smart and fun image-based assessment, individuals are just minutes away from leading more personalized, and thus more meaningful, lives. That is what we aim to do at Traitify.

Traitify’s Psychology

The psychology of the Traitify system measures personality traits and preferences using several psychological theories as its foundation. While the field of personality psychology is vast, we’ve relied on several theories outlined below.

It is from the framework of this history that Traitify’s Assessments are born. Using the above building blocks, the Traitify team has modernized and revolutionized their accessibility, allowing for precise measurement of the characterological depth and nuances of an individual.

Psychodynamic Theory

Created in 1923 by Dr. Sigmund Freud, psychodynamic theory describes the dynamics or workings of the mind. The mind is composed of three structures: ego, id and super ego. The id, which contains instincts and drives, is often in conflict with the super ego, which is the conscience. The ego (thoughts, some coping mechanisms) mediates between the two. While some of our mental functioning is conscious, much remains unconscious, or out of our awareness (and gets expressed in dreams, or slips of the tongue).

Psychodynamic Principles:

  • Attachment style - the style of attachment to others
  • Free Association - a way to access the unconscious part of an individual’s mind
  • Unconscious Motivation - what drives an individual at the deepest level
  • Ego Strengths - core psychological strengths of an individual
  • Defenses - the ways in which individuals protect themselves psychologically and cope in the world.

Vocational Psychology, which measures variables integral to career orientation, such as the Strong Inventory, Holland Themes, and the US Department of Labor’s O*Net.

Personality Theory which identifies archetypes and collective patterns, or the overall ways that certain traits tend to cluster, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Behavioral Theory which identifies patterns of behavior that are reinforced and predictable in individuals and groups.

Traitify’s Methodology

Our primary method of personality measurement is presenting images based on a particular concept. The image as the medium for measurement is linked to the concept of free association in that it elicits internal personality preference and responses on many levels of consciousness. Thoughts, emotions, and memories are stimulated in the process of associating visually. Traitify’s assessment elicits an automatic response based on personality factors that are more authentic than the traditional questionnaire format, which is often susceptible to a testing effect.

The “Me/Not Me” option allows for the highest level of personalization in that it invites an individual to move toward or away - identify with or not identify with - a particular image. Thus, in the aggregate of all images, unique personality components are identified. By forcing a binary decision, the results are decisive. Multiple images allow for similar personality concepts to be measured in a variety of different ways. While the “Me/Not Me” selection is binary, the multiplicity of images allows for a full spectrum of results, similar to a Likert scale.

By using an assessment that is visual in nature, we are able to access core elements of personality by measuring the individual’s response to the imagery chosen in the Assessment. These images resonate uniquely with people taking the assessment, capturing a level of nuance that isn’t available with standard pencil and paper tests. In other words, in a simple, fast, game-like experience, Traitify measures a depth of personality in a way that is fun and unthreatening.

Traitify’s Actionability

After receiving the results from a Traitify assessment, it is important to know how to make use of this personality data. Information about an individual's personality can help them make a variety of life decisions, such as:

  • selecting a college major
  • choosing a career or vocation
  • forming friendships
  • building peer groups
  • determining how to best spend free time
  • discovering enjoyable hobbies
  • making consumer choices
  • choosing romantic relationships

On the other side, websites, applications, employers, can use this information in ways such as:

  • recruiting and hiring
  • making credit decisions
  • matching people to people for:
    • team understanding/dynamics
    • profile identity (more than a name)

Clearly, personality data have a myriad of applications, not only for the individual, but also for those seeking to form a relationship with that individual, including educational institutions and employers, commercial vendors, service providers, friends and romantic partners.

Personality is Predictive

By revealing individual personality traits and types, Traitify can make predictions about:

  • Behavior Patterns - like buying behaviors or exercise patterns
  • Preferences - such as movies, travel, field of study, jobs and work environments
  • Styles - approaches such as social, leadership, perseverance, learning, teaching
  • Relationships - with people, products and services.

Everyone has had the experience of easily relating to someone new, “clicking” with a stranger who is easy to talk to. The basis of that “goodness of fit” with another person is connected to compatibility of personality traits and types. In this way, Traitify can use personality data to predict likely matches between people in any of the above preferences, styles, and so on.

An Array of Personalized And Contextual Assessments

While personality is enduring and stable, an individual’s psychology differs in terms of strengths and conflicts in the different areas of life. For example, one may be exceedingly successful in work, yet challenged in sustaining an interpersonal relationship. For this reason, we have customized decks in order to measure personality for very specific purposes.

  • For human resources, we have assessments to analyze Perseverance, Integrity and Leadership styles.
  • For relationships, we have assessments to analyze Relationship Styles, CORE personality types and compatible matches.
  • For entertainment, we have assessments to playfully analyze Superhero personality and Movie preferences.
  • For social purposes, we have an assessment to analyze Introversion/Extroversion.
  • For marketing purposes, we have an assessment to analyze Buying Behaviors.

Measurements and Results

Traitify delivers scoring at both the Personality Type and Trait level. These scores represent the individual results compared to the maximum results. To break it down even further, each personality type score is a composite of the scores for all of the traits that make up that personality type. The weighted trait scores, in turn, are created from the binary responses to the images in each assessment with short textual descriptions.

Personality Traits

Beyond the overarching personality types, Traitify drills deeper, using our unique image based assessment technology to precisely measure trait-based aspects of personality.

Constellated uniquely in every individual, traits are the underlying ingredients or building blocks of every personality. All individuals have dominant personality traits that are observed in a specific context. Thus, the context of the assessment is very important. For example, an individual may be very driven and aggressive in his or her professional life, but feel very inhibited and shy in romantic pursuits.

Personality Types

Traitify has delineated major personality types as they relate to various areas of life, including work, play, and love. These personality types are grounded in psychodynamic principles and behavioral psychological theories.

When a group of traits form a cluster, a type results. Personality types are the broad, differentiated category results being measured by a particular assessment. Types are reflected in an individual’s preferences, coping style, patterns of behavior and relationship style. For example, the “Visionary” personality type in our Careers assessment tends to be thrill-seeking in his or her choice of work activities, and will likely show higher levels on traits such as high-energy, daring, enthusiastic and aggressive. Personality types are used to predict preferences, strengths and compatibility in different contexts.

Personality Blends

Personality blends are a combination of the individual’s top two dominant personality types. Like individual personality types, blends can be used to predict preferences, strengths and compatibility. They are, however, the most elaborated and synthesized description of an individual, and thus, the highest degree of personalization.

Blends are available for assessments that measure multiple aspects of personality rather than just two poles and the spectrum. For example, our Careers and Heroes assessment results will offer blends, whereas our Introvert/Extrovert and Persuasion assessments offer just one main personality type.

Reliability and Validity

Method

After an initial pilot study completed at the University of Southern California, Traitify conducted a more comprehensive study with 482 participants. The participants were requested, though not required, to provide basic demographic information. The data from this study was then downloaded from the server and processed for a Principal Component Analysis and reliability (internal consistency) analyses.

Career Results

A Principal Components Analysis with Varimax rotation was performed on data from 482 participants with complete and valid responses to ensure that the trait scores form subsets that are consistent with the seven personality types. Results revealed that a seven factor solution was appropriate. The first six factors all had eigenvalues over 2 with the eigenvalue of the 7th factor being 1.58. After the seventh factor, changes in successive eigenvalues were small. Additionally, the scree plot shows a marked change in slope after the seventh factor. Examination of the rotated factor solution revealed that the traits do indeed load together as expected based on the a priori grouping of the traits into types, with a few exceptions. The first component was comprised primarily of the Visionary traits. In fact, each of these traits had factor loadings that were highest on the first component. Two of the Inventor traits (passionate and spontaneous) also had their highest factor loadings on this component. The third component was comprised of all of the remaining Inventor traits and both spontaneous and visionary had high factor loadings on this trait as well (.51 and .45, respectively). The second component was composed of the Naturalist traits with the addition of physically-driven which loaded most highly on this factor and not with the other Action Taker items. The seventh factor was composed of all of the other Action Taker items and physically driven did load highly (.52) on this factor as well. The fifth factor was composed of all of the Analyzer traits and the sixth factor was composed of all of the Mentor traits. All factor loadings for the traits on their type factor were at or above .45. Taken together the results of the PCA analyses support the structure of the career assessment.

Next, the internal consistency of the personality types were measured using Cronbach’s Alpha; a commonly used estimate of the reliability of a psychometric test. The internal consistency was very high for all personality types with the average = .938. See Table 1 for Cronbach’s alpha scores for each personality type. These results show that the personality types have very good internal consistency, that is indeed comparable to the existing standards within the personality assessment marketplace.

Conclusion

Traitify’s Career assessment shows a good factor structure and exhibits excellent internal consistency. We are currently engaged in a validation study which will further verify the strength of our assessment. We are committed to constantly improving our underlying technology to enhance its usefulness and value.

Cronbach's Alpha Level By Types

The Time Is Now

It has become increasingly difficult to navigate the vast amount of information available in our digital world. Web Services and Applications have attempted to circumvent this challenge by using our demographic data, our location, and monitoring our click behavior to “personalize” recommendations and improve our experience with their product or service. Still, these second degree attempts at understanding who we are and what we like are often anything but smart!

Imagine how much better the user experience would be if the web service or application knew the real you and not just the average income in your zip code, or just the cross street you’re approaching, or just which websites you recently visited. How much better could a web service or application tailor its offering to you, if it understood how adventurous or reserved you are, whether you prefer solitude to group interaction, or like to spend your free time at cultural venues rather than sporting arenas. These are truths about your very essence that can’t be determined from subgroup analysis or eavesdropping on your clickstream.

In an increasingly complex digital world, we need technology that can help us discover what we need and want quickly, without wasting time hopelessly searching. Traitify was founded to address this challenge. We’ve built our technology to be fast, fun, and easy to use for both the end user and the developer embedding it into their application. Discovering an individual’s complex and unique personality, and using that understanding to enrich their experience, is Traitify’s mission.

Traitify Psychology Advisors

Jennifer Babcock, PhD

Dr. Jennifer Babcock is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Dr. Babcock works with children and adults in psychotherapy, and she also provides psychological, educational, academic, and neuropsychological assessments of children and adults. Dr. Babcock is an Assistant Clinical Professor at George Washington University, teaching doctoral level students about assessment. Dr. Babcock is also on the adjunct faculty at Georgetown University Hospital, teaching psychiatrist residents about assessments. Dr. Babcock graduated from the George Washington University with her Doctoral Degree in Psychology in 2005. Dr. Babcock received her Master’s of Education in Counseling Psychology and Master’s of Arts in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University in 2001.

Lynn Friedman, PhD

Dr. Lynn Friedman is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, maintaining a full-time, private practice in Chevy Chase, MD. She specializes in work-life (career) and relationship concerns and teaches psychotherapy and career coaching at Johns Hopkins University. Links to her nationally-syndicated, Washington Business Journal Column, “Corporations on the Couch”, and to her Washington Post articles can be found at www.washington-dc-psychologist.com.

Teresa Tawes, MS, MBA

Teresa Tawes is the Outpatient Director of Harford-Belair Community Mental Health Center, Inc. She is responsible for both operational and clinical management for the Adult, Child and Adolescent, and Geriatric Services. Additionally, Ms. Tawes participates in advocacy and public policy issues for persistently mentally ill consumers in the Maryland Public Mental Health System. She is a graduate of Loyola University Maryland with a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Master of Business Administration.

Studies and Reports

Fisher, N. (2011). Nine Lives: Nine Case Histories Reflecting the Human Condition. NY: Vantage Press.
This book contains descriptions of the emotional lives, internal struggles, conflicts, and anguish of nine people in psycho-dynamic psychotherapy. It highlights how personality traits emerge, in the context of both innate constitution and the environment (nature/nurture), and how they develop and reveal themselves over time.

Grosz, S. (2013). The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves. NY: Norton and Co.
This book contains vivid descriptions of several individuals and their experience of psycho-dynamic psychotherapy. It displays the multiple forces which guide our personalities and choices.

Holland, J.L. (1966). The Psychology of Vocational Choice. Waltham, MA: Blaisdell.
Using vocation research, Holland describes six categories of vocational inclination.

Malawista, K., Adelman, A., Anderson, C. (2011). Wearing My Tutu to Analysis and Other Stories: Learning Psycho-dynamic Concepts from Life. NY: Columbia University Press.
Three psychoanalysts explain the complexity of personality, through the use of case examples. Concepts such as attachment (relationship styles) and mentalization (the ability to empathize) , and the inherent interplay of personality traits are illustrated through lively anecdotes.

Nordvik, H. (1996). “Relationships between Holland’s vocational typology, Schein’s career anchors and Myers-Briggs’ types.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 69: 263- 275.
This article details research done with Holland’s vocational typology. It compares predictions resulting from the MBTI and the Holland.

Shedler, J. (2006). “That was then and this is now: An introduction to contemporary psychodynamic therapy.” Available online at http://jonathanshedler.com/writings/
A psychoanalyst describes fundamental psychodynamic principles used to identify and understand personality structure and traits.

 

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