An Exploration of Strengths and Limitations of Self, Peer, and Behaviour Reporting

An Exploration of Strengths and Limitations of Self, Peer, and Behaviour Reporting



According to (Jex & Britt, 2014, p. 14), personality concepts are postulated traits of an individual. Many of these personality concepts are not tangible in the field of psychology. In the process of understanding the way people behave, it is essential to measure the personality concepts. Smith (2014, p.15) argues that during the measurement exercise of the personality concepts, individuals ought to embrace an approach that will ensure the process is convincing and effective. Personality concepts in the field of psychology can only be acceptable if the validity of the approaches used in the process of measurement can be determined (Jex & Britt, 2014, p. 31). It is relatively important if the psychologists carefully evaluate and weigh between the strengths and limitations of each of the approaches to select the most appropriate method that will give desirable results (Kline, 2015, p.35).

Self-report behaviour analysis involves examining the people’s feelings, activities and memory of past incidences. During the self-report behaviour analysis, the psychologists query their clients to determine their personality. The analysis is crucial because it enables the psychologists to understand their clients’ needs in their quest to deliver the best guidance (Kline, 2015, p.47). The validity of the information given in the self-report behaviour assessment is sometimes controversial. Therefore, the psychologists ought to assess the information keenly to avoid making wrong assumptions that may jeopardise their work. There are occasions in which such reports can more acceptable whereas others may require individuals to use alternative approaches. Through analysis of their strengths and limitations, it is possible for an individual to improve their precision (Shapiro, 2014, p. 34). To improve the accuracy of the methods that are desired to be used, one ought to advance the questionnaires and interviews to incorporate the emerging technologies in data gathering to reduce prejudice and improve accuracy.             Alternatively, the personality assessment exercise can use information got from colleagues of the client whose facts, proficiency, and similarity in upbringing are of value in the process to understand the character of the client (Martel et al., 2016, p. 24). People who are willing to give information about others in the psychological field are referred to as informants. As a way of assessing the information given by the client, the psychologists query the informants about their clients to ascertain the homogeny of the two sources. The informant’s report contains crucial information about individuals regarding their actions and manners (Kline, 2015, p.76). The report is, therefore, a revelation of the internal traits of persons through an alternative method besides the usual route that is only accessed by them. The data is required to have optimal validity for it to be utilized across the field of psychology (Martel et al., 2016, p. 65).

In the process of analysing the personality of an individual, the person’s traits can also be observed through their behaviour. In the real world, people’s behaviours can be learned from their actions as they progress with their routine work. To understand these traits in people, one ought to use observational methods (Shapiro, 2014, p. 41).

A close examination of the strengths and limitations of a method to be applied in psychology can disclose why it is hardly used even with its high level of validity. During the personality assessment, the information generated from a given approach can be used to improve its validity making it be widely used. Therefore, this essay will explore each of the three methods to find out their strengths and limitations that will help the psychologists to choose the best method they can use in counseling to meet their target.

Strengths of Self-Report Data

The Self-report assessment is the most commonly used approach globally. It seems to be the most preferred method because it is used in most studies. Perhaps this is because the best way to get to know someone’s character is by enquiring directly from that person (McDonald, 2008, p. 2).   No one has got access to information pertaining self than oneself. Information revealed by self is full of introspective and motivational data that cannot be accessed through any other method. It has been established that people identify with questions regarding themselves than questions about other people. Therefore, every individual is more motivated to speak about the self that to speak about anyone else (McDonald, 2008, p. 3). This enhances the accuracy of self-reports. Self-reports are also easy to interpret, cost effective and a quick way to gather data (Kline, 2015, p.35). They are easier to interpret because they have almost all information required about an individual. It is a cost effective approach because the psychologists do not need many questionnaires as compared to informant assessment. Lastly, it is a quick way of collecting data since the psychologists do not move around querying many people.

Limitations of Self-Report Data

The actual assessment of self-reports must be valid, reliable and consistent. The accuracy of the reported information in measuring the concept under investigation is subject to the structure of the questions asked in the interview or included in the questionnaire. Minor changes in questions result in mega changes in the overall results acquired from self-reports (McDonald, 2008, p. 8). More so, self-reports give room for bias given that persons respond in a way that seems most favorable for them regardless of the validity of the response. In addition, it is the nature of human beings to obscure reality in favor of maintaining positivity about themselves (Mischel, 2013, p.4). This distorts data collected using self-reports (McDonald, 2008, p. 9). Another issue of concern is whether people know themselves adequately enough to provide information that can help psychologists measure the constructs in question. Contrary to the assumption of self –reports that people understand why they do what they do, people do not have this level of self-awareness (McDonald, 2008, p. 9). Such limitations ought to be considered when using self-reports in psychology.

Strengths of Peer Report Data

According to Martel et al. (2016, p. 87), informant assessments have various strengths which make them a method of choice in certain instances of finding out about personality constructs. There is a notion that peer reports are better given that other people can give a perspective that is unique and specific to a particular individual (McDonald, 2008, p. 7). They are considered a source of information that is well endowed with specialized details. Peer report is a fast, cheap and easy method of collecting data intended for measuring constructs of personality. Furthermore, the data collected is more reliable because it is a combination of judgments from several people (Martel et al., 2016, p. 102).  Peers also provide useful information because they have had several chances of making observations on the person in consideration in various behaviours (McDonald, 2008, p. 10). Thus, informant assessment can be very instrumental in complementing self- reports or in situations where self- reports are not effective.

Limitations of Peer Report Data

Collecting data from other people is more time consuming and costly compared to holding self-report assessments (Mischel, 2013, p.6). The method is regarded to be invalid and difficult because it entails getting information from informants that may not co- operative at most times (McDonald, 2008, p. 11). It also bestows the task of ensuring the informant is honest upon the psychologist (Martel et al., 2016, p. 54). Gathering of peer report data is regarded less practical and inefficient as well as costly since the informant assessments will involve additional human and economic resources (Martel et al, 2016, p. 81). The peer report may not give all information regarding some individual as self-reports does. This is attributed to the fact that the informants do not have access to other people’s judgments, feelings, and motives.  Peer-respondent reports might have response biases such as an extreme rating (McDonald, 2008, p. 12). It is essential for psychologists to consider the impact of these limitations before choosing the informant assessment approach in conducting the personality evaluation

Strengths of Behavioural Data

First, behavioural data provides the option of observing the character of individuals either in a natural or artificial setting (McDonald, 2008, p. 14). Secondly, an Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) has been established to streamline the use of microphones and cameras in recording the behaviour of persons. EAR records short auditory snapshots of activities of a person in numerous occasions for some days (McDonald, 2008, p. 15). EAR has several restrictions and requirements, but, it is important in certain circumstances.

Limitations of Behavioural Data

Behavioural data is the least used method in personality assessments because there are many ethical barriers in observing the behaviour of other people or interfering with conditions in some situations (McDonald, 2008, p. 16). It is also very difficult to advance and assess schemes of codes that are required in this method. Final judgments will not be realistic because it is difficult to understand people’s personalities by just observing their behaviour. In addition, gathering and analysis of behavioural data consumes a lot of time and financial resources (McDonald, 2008, p. 16). It can only be used after buffering all these limitations.


There are many valid reasons why self-report, peer report, and behaviour report methods should be used in the process of conducting a personality assessment. However, the psychologists must keep in mind the various limitations to individual methods to avoid shoddy work. The validity of the three methods of personal assessment can be affected by response sets including public appeal, consent, laziness, and extremism. Consequently, emotional excitement can also impact the response of some individuals regarding answering questions in a way they never intended. Limited knowledge of self and access to individual’s thoughts and emotions may influence the outcome of the personality assessment process. This scenario reflects a bigger picture of inefficiency when using peer report assessment. The peers might be having limited access to the desired information thus affecting the overall result of the assessment. Finally, time and cost are vital in determining the required information to ensure the personality assessment exercise is precise and valid.













Jex, S. M., & Britt, T. W. (2014). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach. John Wiley & Sons.

Kline, P. (2015). Personality (Psychology Revivals): Measurement and Theory. London: Routledge.

Martel, M. M., Markon, K., & Smith, G. T. (2016). Research Review: Multi‐informant integration in child and adolescent psychopathology diagnosis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

McDonald, J. D. (2008). Measuring personality constructs: The advantages and disadvantages of self-reports, informant reports, and behavioural assessments. Enquire, 1(1), 1-18.

Mischel, W. (2013). Personality and assessment. Hove: Psychology Press.

Shapiro, E. S. (2014). Behavioral assessment in school psychology. London: Routledge.

Smith, E. R., Mackie, D. M., & Claypool, H. M. (2014). Social psychology. Hove: Psychology Press.


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