You sign up for an online dating site like eHarmony and are instantaneously matched with someone based on compatibility. You take a personality quiz to learn more about yourself and how you work with others. You apply for a job and get matched with a job that best fits your unique traits. Or maybe your team participated in a workshop to understand the personality traits of one another and learned how to work better together.
These are just a few examples of how psychometrics are used in large-scale applications. By the end of this post, you’ll have an understanding of what psychometrics are and how you can get started using them in your own company.
While psychometrics have been in use for decades, the rise in access to data means that you can now understand your customers better than ever.
WHAT ARE PSYCHOMETRICS?
Psychometrics are objective measurements of psychology. Personality traits, cognitive function, emotional states, resilience, attitudes, personal values, abilities, skills and knowledge are all measurements that can be assessed and evaluated at scale.
Historically, psychologists were interested in areas like mental health, personality, and cognition. However, these fields couldn’t be tied specifically to numbers for in-depth analysis.
Fast forward to today where the rigorous discipline of psychometrics has evolved and now allows scientists to put hard measures on humans’ mental health, personality, and cognition in trustworthy and believable ways.
HOW ARE PSYCHOMETRICS ASSESSED?
While individual assessments can vary in terms of how the information is collected (written, verbally, online, etc.), it’s important to be aware of the common methods of psychometric data collection.
Historically, one of the most common ways to collect psychometric information is by prompting an assessment that requires an individual to reflect on their own psychological attributes. The assessment accuracy comes entirely from how honest & self-reflective individuals are with their answers.
The Good – Transparent Use Cases
Many uses of psychometric assessments are upfront and transparent about why they are collecting data. For example, eHarmony collects information from individuals so they can be best matched with a potential partner. The Predictive Index helps companies administer assessments for potential employees to see if and where they fit into the company.
In these examples, psychometric information is collected for a specific use case that helps humans engage better with themselves and one another. This is a foundational principle that differentiates the good stewards of psychometrics vs. the bad actors.
Specific use cases of psychometrics typically have feedback specific to the information provided. This feedback can include a summary of dominant attributes that can be used to learn more about oneself. Again, the idea is to enhance relationships with oneself or another.
The Bad – Sneaky Broad Quizzes
Many online personality quizzes collect psychometric information on individuals without the individual’s explicit understanding or consent and then use that information for their own benefit. For example, during the 2016 U.S. election, Cambridge Analytica created and promoted Facebook personality quizzes to collect information on individuals’ psychological attributes and then used those in their efforts to profile individuals, targeting personalized ads to sway voting behavior.
Psychometrics can be used quietly to change behavior of individuals assessed, and this is not limited to politics. While this type of behavior can be extremely effective, it’s in our opinion, largely unethical.
Psychometrics are powerful. They can be used to enhance relationships, build self-awareness, and scale real human connection and conversation. However, given that there are bad actors in the space and how difficult the use of psychometrics is to regulate, it’s best for organizations using psychometrics to be transparent about how the information will be used. This way individuals can feel comfortable with sharing personal information.
EXAMPLE USE CASES OF PSYCHOMETRICS
At psyML we live and breathe psychometrics to enhance human engagement. While we pay attention to the news and many of the negative uses of psychometrics to change behavior, we also dream of ways to solve existing and newly uncovered problems using psychometrics.
For example, we developed a patient personality assessment that helps physicians understand their patients so that they can personalize their treatment plans. The patient assessment also gives patients with insights into how to engage more fully in their own care.
We developed an assessment to help people understand how their personality affects the way they save and spend money, with the goal to create more sustainable, financial lives.
And we even applied world-renowned Bruce McEwen’s cutting-edge concept, “allostatic load,” to an assessment intended to help individuals become more resilient when dealing with stress.
We’ve developed models that allow us to identify specific use cases for psychometrics to help achieve organizational goals, develop psychological assessments, and create feedback to meet the goals of the project. All under our guiding vision to enhance human engagement.
The feedback that accompanies our assessments is dynamic and crafted to meet each person engaging with it at a very specific, personal level. It not only tells the individual taking the assessment about themselves but also about how they can take what they’ve learned from it to excel in their own lives.