The questions

Think about your reaction to these questions:

How good a driver are you? How attractive do you think you are? How creative? And how intelligent?

We can call these evaluative questions in that they invite you to evaluate yourself against some standard, where having more of these qualities is a good thing.

Now reflect on your responses to these:

How extrovert are you? How anxious are you in new situations? How detail-focused vs. big-picture? How decisive are you?

Think of these as descriptive questions in that they are fairly neutral ways of describing you – having more of these qualities may or may not be a good thing.

The research

Research by Simine Vazire and colleagues points us in an interesting direction:

  • the most accurate answers to the descriptive questions come from us introspecting and self-reporting
  • whereas answers to the evaluative questions are most accurate when they come from other people, particularly people who know us well

How CharacterScope fits in

The 34 CharacterScope Strengths items (from Curiosity and Open-minded to Other-awareness and Handles conflict) are more evaluative than descriptive. More of any of these Strengths is better than less and give reasons why people may be prepared to follow you. In contrast, personality variables are more descriptive: being more extrovert may or may not make it any more likely that someone will follow you.

This implies that getting feedback on your personality is unlikely to tell you much. Simply draw on your self-knowledge and complete the personality questionnaire (such as the MBTI). Whereas a self-review in CharacterScope  will only tell you a part of the story, and getting feedback on your character is of real value – it will confirm some things but also tell you things you don’t know about yourself, and the distinctive ways others see you.

The catch

The problem is that the people who know us well might have the most accurate view of our character but they just might not be prepared to tell us the reason they are not telling (and we can often tell when they are not telling!). Colleagues and friends are often concerned that they will trigger a defensive response in us, and if we do get defensive not only do we not learn from the feedback, it can feel like it actually could damage the relationship as well.

Yet the evidence is there, and it is that we need this feedback. The most successful people in any walk of life are those who are self-aware and also open to feedback and learning.

The solution

We have designed CharacterScope carefully to make the giving and receiving feedback a really positive experience:

  • you give and receive ‘viewpoints’ – which are simply that: your point of view on somebody else or their point of view on you
  • you put your name to your ‘viewpoint’ rather than doing it anonymously (no more guessing who said what in anonymous 360 feedback)
  • it encourages turn-taking: when you complete a viewpoint for someone else, it leads naturally to them being willing to complete one for you and vice versa
  • in turn this leads to conversations – the kind that you always mean to have but never get around to!

The future

We currently have a ‘Viewpoints’ report in beta test which allow you to group a number of individual reports together so you can see the themes and patterns in how others see you. Our plan is to launch this in Spring 2016 but we will be inviting people who are interested to trial the beta version before then. Let us know if you are interested.

Up until then, simply get started through using the ‘review someone else’ button at the bottom of your home page. Don’t worry – it stays private until you choose to share it. And you can complete as many of these as you want.

If you want feedback from a friend or colleague they will need to register as members of CharacterScope (remember it’s free for now) and first complete a self-review in order to get familiar with the framework. Once they have done this they can complete as many ‘review others’ as they want.