An Examinstion of Perseveration in Personality Inventory Responses
The Problem: This study was designed to test the hypothesis that perseveration in personality inventories can be measured and used diagnostically. Perseveration is defined as the inability to shift or to break through an established set in order to perform a task. Possibilities of improving the method of measurement of perseveration were explored. Procedure: Subjects used were nursing students and selected psychiatric patients. Subjects were divided into highperforming normals, low-performing normals, schizophrenics, and organics. The Psychological Screening Inventory (PSI) was administered to all subjects. Inventories were scored on two measures of perseveration and the four groups were compared. The groups were also compared with a normative group on selected sections of the inventory. Findings: Results showed a weak but significant difference between organics and the other three groups on both perseveration measures. The other three groups did not differ on these measures, but, on the selected test sections, differences were found between observed frequencies of perseveration scores and expected frequencies derived from the normative data. Conclusions: It was concluded that perseveration does occur in personality inventories and that it can be used diagnostically. Furthermore, the results indicate that discriminative ability could be improved by reordering test items using normative data. Recommendations: Further study of the perseveration phenomenon using tests with special item ordering could clarify the results of this study.