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“Free personality tests are more reliable and efficient than the paid variety”

BPS Research Digest reports:

Free personality tests are more reliable and efficient than the paid variety

In most areas of life, we expect the free versions of products to be sub-standard compared with the “premium” paid-for versions. After all, why would anyone pay for something if the free equivalent were better? However, a new study of personality tests boots this logic off the park – psychologists at the University of Texas report in the Journal of Psychology that free tests are more reliable and efficient than their paid-for, proprietary counterparts.

To measure test reliability, Tyler Hamby and his colleagues dug out personality test data collected in five prior meta-analyses of the Big Five personality traits….

At least for research purposes (as opposed to in applied settings), these new results stack heavily in favour of free tests. Not only do free tests match or exceed the reliability of paid-for tests, they are also shorter which helps encourage participants to complete all test items and reduces participant drop-out rates. “Assuming that a particular scale has been properly validated, we tentatively recommend using free scales to measure Big Five traits in personality research,” the researchers said. It will be interesting to see if this finding applies to other areas of psychology research where free and paid-for tests are available.

The Journal of Psychology study itself is available only for pay. The journal’s publisher charges US $40 for the article, or US $97 for that entire issue of the Journal of Psychology.

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