Self-Report in Psychology

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In psychology, a self-report is any test, measure, or survey that relies on the individual's own report of their symptoms, behaviors, beliefs or attitudes. Self-report data is gathered typically from paper-and-pencil or electronic format, or sometimes through an interview.

Self-reports are commonly used in psychological studies largely because much valuable and diagnostic information about a person is revealed to a researcher or a clinician based on a person’s report on himself or herself.

One of the most commonly used self-report tool is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) for personality testing.

Advantages of Self-Report Information

One of the primary advantages of self-report data is that it can be easy to obtain. It is also the main way that clinicians diagnose their patients: by asking questions.

Disadvantages of Self-Report Information

Collecting information through a self-report, however, has its limitations. People are often biased when they report on their own experiences. For example, many individuals are either consciously or unconsciously influenced by "social desirability," that is, they are more likely to report experiences that are considered to be socially acceptable or preferred.

Self-report Information is Best Used in Conjunction With Other Data

Most experts in psychological research and diagnosis suggest that self-report data should not be used alone as it tends to be biased.

Research is best done when combining self-report data with other information, such as an individual’s behavior or physiological data. This “multi-modal” or “multi-method” assessment provides a more global and therefore likely more accurate picture of the subject.

Edited by Jenev Caddell, PsyD

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