What impacts how someone answers the questionnaire?

Article author
Rachel Scriven
  • Updated

Here we explore what does or doesn't impact how someone answers the Facet5 questionnaire, and why someone might take longer to answer questions related to a certain factor in particular. 

People are most likely to modify their responses slightly when they feel the outcome- how the personality data is going to be used - is important.

People may modify their responses for the following reasons: 

  • Recruitment 
  • Mid-range personality
  • The complexity of the question 
  • Confused why they’ve been asked to complete the questionnaire
  • Learned Behaviour vs Preference 

There are often why someone may also take consistently longer to answer questions relating to a certain factor - which is expanded on below. 


Reasons that do not influence how someone responds

People often think the other factors such as the below will change the outcome of their personality profile, 

❌ Tired
❌ Late at night
❌ Wasn’t in a good mood that day
❌ Jetlag
❌ I got interrupted

However the test-retest reliability measures are evidence that elements like this don't significantly influence our core personality and how we answer the questionnaire. 


The questionnaire is carefully designed to create reliable data. It does this through item ambiguity and balanced valence: 

Item Ambiguity

Here is one example of one of the questions: 


Would you be able to guess what Factor this question relates to? People would often guess say Affection, but it’s actually Will (Confrontation). 

The questions are written is such a way that the typical person should not be able to identify which factor they relate to – they are deliberately ambiguous. If you have been accredited you might find it easier to spot which questions relate to which factors, but even then some would be hard to guess or would surprise you. 


Balanced Valence  

The statements have also been written to be neutral – one statement should not read as being more socially desirable than another or be perceived as being the ‘right’ answer. This is called Balanced Valence and helps people to answer more truthfully. 



Why might someone take longer to answer questions related for a certain factor? 

When a Response Analysis shows someone took longer to answer questions for certain factor - such as emotionality in the example below - it's often because of one or a combination of the following. 



Role confusion

They may have been uncertain whether the question related to the work place or to a different environment.

There can be conflict between our personality preference versus what is learned behaviour. Someone might have been in roles for a long time that require a lot of planning, diligence and consideration. While over time they become very effective acting in this way and see it as something that they do well, it might not be their genuine underlying preference. Outside of work however, they might take a much more free thinking and unplanned approach to their day. In cases like this it's common for individuals to take longer where they are unsure which is most true for them. 


Item complexity

They may have been able to see a number of different interpretations and so took more time to decide which made best sense.


Role Identification

They were being cautious given the expectations of the role.

Bias is most likely when Facet5 is part of a selection or recruitment process rather than personal development. This is because they might rethink their natural response and adapt this to suit the job role or company culture they are applying for. 

The Facet5 questionnaire items are designed to be ambiguous -  it would be very difficult to know which items relate to which personality factor and how this would impact the report. However certain items will be more recognisable as appropriate or inappropriate for certain job roles.

For example, someone is more likely to disagree with the statement "There is no need to get too concerned about details" when applying for a project manager role. 

High Energy, High Control and Low Emotionality are often considered more socially desirable and so might be more likely to be reconsidered when answering personality measures. 



Where someone is mid-range for a factor and can see themselves in both sides equally, they might take longer to answer since they genuinely struggle to give a preference either way, and it would likely depend on the situation and additional context for them.

What if they were interrupted during the questionnaire?

Facet5 calculates the personal average time in order to identify extreme outliers where someone might have been interrupted, answered some emails or gone for a cup of coffee. These answers are still used in the profile but are not counted as one of your 15 slowest responses. 

This means the slowest 15 responses are indicative of what was slower than that individuals average response time, and not likely to be caused by external events. 

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