A role for information theory in personality modeling, assessment, and judgment

David Condon, Rene Mottus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Claude Shannon’s groundbreaking work on information theory (Shannon, 1948a) was published just as the field of psychological testing was reaching its potential. Many of the fundamental underpinnings of psychological testing theory were proposed in this same era and the application of these ideas over the ensuing decades has greatly informed our understanding across numerous psychological domains, including individual differences in personality, cognitive abilities, interests, and much more. While the prospect of integrating information theory into psychological assessment was initially received with great enthusiasm, it was quickly and definitively dismissed by Lee Cronbach (1955a), mainly on the grounds that it was incompatible with the practical demands of psychological testing (e.g., limited testing time, relatively small samples). In this chapter, we reconsider Cronbach’s rationale in light of recent technological advancements brought about by the “information age,” and propose that re-introducing information-theoretic approaches to psychological assessment can advance our knowledge of personality, person-perception, and personality assessment. We conclude by providing several examples of research applications that have already invoked an information theory approach to assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMeasuring and modeling persons and situations
EditorsDustin Wood, Stephen J. Read, P. D. Harms, Andrew Slaughter
PublisherAcademic Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780128192016
ISBN (Print)9780128192009
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • personality
  • assessment
  • personality judgement
  • information theory


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