Psychometric testing is a practice that measures a variety of characteristics including (among many) mental agility, aptitude, personality etc
Psychometric testing has several stages of development:
- Define what it is you want to measure.
- Set up a questionnaire or test to measure it.
- Prove that your test measures what it was designed to measure.
There are several statistical standards which prove your test does what it claims. This includes measuring predictive validity, test re-test and correlation with one or several established tests.
Put simply, psychometric testing is a set of techniques which ensure, among other things, that:
- You are testing what you think you are testing. For example: a written test of mathematics should be testing maths, not writing.
- Your test gives the same results if it’s given to the same person twice or administered by different people.
- It’s fair to everyone.
- You know how accurate the measure is and how far you can depend on it. No measure – whether of your height or your profit is 100% accurate (just ask an accountant about the latter). Sometimes this variance can be significant.
Psychometric testing helps you to weigh the accuracy of your decision.
Ipsative or Normative?
You might come across the terms ipsative and normative. These terms describe how a psychometric test measures defined characteristics.
Here’s a brief explanation.
- An Ipsative assessment compares an individual with himself or herself. In other words, what they prefer.
- A Normative assessment compares an individual with other people also known as a population.
History of Psychometric testing
Testing for proficiency dates back to 2200 BC China when the Emperor would make use of gruelling fitness assessments for his prospective workers.
Modern psychometrics has their roots with the cousin of Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton. Sir Francis Galton lived from 1822 to 1911. The differences between individuals fascinated him. He showed that objective testing could provide meaningful scores.
Another pioneer was James Cattell who first coined the term ‘mental test’ in 1890. Albert Binet introduced the first intelligence test 15 years later.
Psychometric testing rose in popularity throughout the 20th century. Today a psychometric testing is best described as a ‘standardised assessment’ that looks at behaviour and describes it with scores or categories.
Different tests will measure different aspects of human behaviour. Some will assess intelligence while other will test capability or measure personality traits. Psychometric testing can assess cognitive, sensory, perceptual and motor functions.
These days many employers make extensive use of these assessments, especially online psychometric test such as McQuaig. McQuaig has been continually developed over 45 years. It is one of the most established and researched psychometric tests available to business.