The current investigation is post-hoc in nature and is nested in a larger research project, which aimed to explore and compare the personality characteristics, coping mechanisms and psychological well-being of South African and Swedish police trainees.
The purpose of this particular study was to explore the psychometric properties of the Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) in a sample of South African Police trainees. A literature review highlighted that the TCI has the potential to be applied across various cultures without the risk of any ethnic or gender bias; this characteristic is attributed to the theoretical model underlying the TCI, which assumes that personality consists of seven universal factors, which manifest in an invariant manner across all humans. Despite this, the majority of international research focussing on the TCI version nine has been undertaken with primarily European populations and Eastern populations. Research exploring the construct equivalence, factor structure and the level of instrument bias of the TCI in any African is virtually non-existent. The current study endeavoured to address the aforementioned knowledge gap by exploring the psychometric properties of the TCI in a multi-cultural South African sample.
The primary goal of the research endeavour was to explore whether the TCI can in the future be established as a valid and reliable personality assessment measure in a multi-cultural context like South Africa. Literature indicates that in the current South African psychometric context personality measures should adhere to the stipulations of the employment equity act (EEA), which especially in its amended form requires fair and just measurement. Studies such as this one can be used to adjudicate whether the TCI has the potential to be used as a fair and reliable measure, which does not violate the stipulation of the employment equity act. In this way the measure may contribute to provide evidence which can be used to make fair, just and reliable decisions not only in the South African Police Service, but also within the general public.
A quantitative investigation was conducted using analysis base on Item Response Theory, specifically the Rasch model, which is considered more accurate than Classical Test Theory in assessing the psychometric functioning of dichotomous personality assessment measures. The analyses rendered information with which the researcher was able to evaluate the validity, reliability, levels of gender and cultural bias, as well as the factors rendered by the TCI. The research sample was a convenient one, comprising 1144 police trainees whom completed a test-battery of four tests, which included the TCI. The results derived from this investigation show that the primary TCI scales each measured a single factor, the presence of these factors among the current sample provide some support for the universality of the TCI; however most of these scales showed a high level of bias when measuring their respective constructs across ethnic and gender groups. The results also pointed out that numerous items and sub-scales possess a considerable level of ethnic and gender bias. There was also no attempt made to investigate the reasons underlying bias, bias may yield important information about cross-cultural differences and can also be seen as a phenomenon that requires explanation (Poortinga and Van der Flier, 1989), which means that the study created a launch pad for future investigations to explore the sources of bias.
These findings have stern implications for the larger research project, as it might decrease the validity of findings derived from comparing scores across groups within the current sample, and to a lesser degree if the performance of the current sample is compared to that of the Swedish sample. It can also be argued that another implication of the study’s findings is that the information derived from the TCI cannot legally be used to make clinical or selection decisions based partially on the personality profile of individuals; however the convenient nature of the sample limits the generalizability of the investigation’s findings. This means that additional research is first required before the legitimacy of the use of the TCI in a South African context can be evaluated.