Personality Tests on Athletes: Are They Right?

Employment testing has been widely used with the hope of correlating results of the various tests with job performance. One of the notable types of tests used are personality tests. They have been used in many different facets in life to see if an individual is right for the job. For instance, tests such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) has been publicly used for years to assess aspiring police officers, fire fighters, and other security and emergency personnel.

In the sports industry the application of testing has been implemented recently and as a result has stirred up some controversy. Some psychologists believe that performance and participation in sport are influenced by personality. Though personality testing has not been considered extensively, there are instances where it’s application has been discussed. For instance, in 2013 the NFL began to use a Player Assessment Tool for both an intelligence exam and a personality test. They say the profile assesses a player’s learning type and personality and can also suggest ideal coaching styles to instruct the athlete. The benefits of testing using the Player Assessment Tool for personality testing includes that it gives more information to supplement skill evaluation. In addition, it gives new information on player learning styles that can help coaches work more successfully with new players.

The topic has also been publicly discussed by Jeff Bower, the current general manager of the Detroit Pistons in the NBA. He has been a huge supporter of personality tests and has indicated that he has been using personality assessments for years at both the college and professional levels. When using it, he was not looking for a particular quality of a player. He and his team were instead looking for how individuals function best and what their natural instincts are.

Jeff Bower — General Manger of the Detroit Pistons

Nevertheless, despite the benefits of these tests as presented by Jeff Bower, the long-term validity of personality testing related to sports has not extensively been discussed publicly. Also, when it comes to performance in sports it would be hard to say that an ideal personality type exists. Finally, there is always that potential that athletes may unconsciously or consciously modify their behaviour to match up to the personality profile given to them.

So in the end, is it right to test athletes Big 5 personality traits? Or would is it an invasion of their privacy? Also, if used, could they give you an edge over other teams out there?

These are questions that still seem unanswered to this day and would be useful to answer in the future!