Application Memo
Personality Analysis

For this team assignment, you must (a) describe and analyze the personalities/styles of the people in your team; (b) discuss the impact of this combination of personalities/styles on your group's functioning. Clarification on length:  can be as long as you like, with a minimum of about a page per person in the team (i.e., a team with 4 people should be handing in a paper that is at least 4 pages long. 

A. The Personalities and Styles

It is important that you NOT be superficial in this analysis. Do not describe everyone as "a laid-back yet hard-working individual"! Do NOT fall back on the idea that you hardly know these people so how could you possibly do anything meaningful with this assignment. Do NOT fall into thinking that you can never really know another person's thoughts, so this exercise is impossible. Just accept the fact that you cannot PROVE anything. You must do your best with the evidence available. On the other hand, you are not supposed to make wild claims that you have no evidence for (e.g., "I can see in his eyes that he sacrifices puppies in his dorm room"). The whole idea is to use your big mammalian brain to deduce personality characteristics from behavioral evidence.

Some sources of data:

This list is by no means exhaustive. I just put down a few ideas to get you thinking.

It is also important to actually interview each other. You can't rely on just what you already know. You must ask questions, like "Do you have a fake id?" and "Have you ever walked around campus just before dawn?"

One pitfall to avoid: do not try to create "balanced" portraits of people. Don't think to yourself: a lot of these things that I wrote about so and so are kind of negative, so let me add in some positive. In the first place, who the hell are you to determine what is positive and what is negative? You may think that being "shy" is kind of a bad thing that a person is probably trying to change about themselves. But I don't. I think the older you get, the more you appreciate shy people and tend to prefer them to the alternative. Second, deliberate balancing is dishonest. You are distorting the picture. Write what you see, hear and feel about your team members, not what you think you ought to. You should especially avoid contradicting yourself, writing that so-and-so is laidback, but then two sentences later they are really hard working and intense about school.

NOTE: You should be sure to make use of concepts about personality/cognitive style presented in class and your textbook in addition to your own approaches.


B. The Relationship of Personalities to Group Functioning

The heart of the paper is section A. This section can be shorter. It should also be a clearly separate section. In this section, you step back from the analysis and ask how the different personalities in your group have affected the course of events in your group. Things to consider include:

Again, this list is NOT exhaustive. It is just meant to give you some ideas about things that might have been affected by the mix of personalities in the group.

It is important in this section to provide evidence or argumentation that links the personality material with the alleged effects. In other words, you cannot just say that the mix of personalities increased the quality of the work. You need to say exactly how the personalities affected the work.

One way to handle this section is to discuss what people of different personality types need to do to deal with each other effectively.

Criteria for Grading:


Copyright 1996 Stephen P. Borgatti Revised: November 06, 2001 Go to Home page