Psychometric Personality Testing Techniques Essay Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Education, Psychology, Personality, United States, Intelligence, Company, Skills, Psychometrics

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/14


Up until the early years of the preceding century, the development of the extent of psychometrics did not begin. The word ‘psycho’ means mind and the word ‘metric’ means measure. Thus, psychometric means the measurement of the mind or intelligence (Cutt, 2007). Visibly, it is simple to measure the strength, weight, and height of an individual. These are the observable and physical characteristics that could be measured accurately. But the characteristics such as personality, abilities, attitude and intelligence are hard to define and to determine. One way to determine these characteristics is through the use of psychometric test which consists of the collection of tools or techniques in measuring the personality, knowledge, and abilities of an individual. Most researches on psychometrics are commenced in trying to measure the intelligence.

Origin of Psychometrics

An English naturalist and geologist, Charles Robert Darwin, had published a book in 1859 which is about the differences of every individual. Its focus is on animals and its differences, characteristics, adaptation as well as survival. Those animals that could drive into the next generation are successful in survival and also in adaptation. On the other hand, those with less adaptation most likely have a little survival and those that could adapt more have the great chance to survive.
Francis Galton, considered to be the ‘father of psychometrics,’ and the one who was inspired of the idea, Darwin, that eventually led to the creation of the concept of psychometrics (Kardas, 2014). Research focuses on the differences of human beings, its measurement and suitability are the main focus of Galton’s book and also includes in research the anthropometric which measures the test of intelligence (Kardas, 2014). One of the pioneers of psychometrics is James McKeen Cattell who lengthened the study of Galton’s effort and created the term mental test. Galton is accountable for the studies that lead to the modern tests’ growth and development (Jones & Thistle, 2007).
J. E. Herbart is very interested in the discoveries of the three namely, Cattell, Galton, and Darwin. Herbart had also interest in using scientific technique in revealing the obscurities on the perception of an individual. Also, the mathematical models of the human mind are generated by Hebart and eventually these became dominant and influential in scholastic practices in the coming years. Hebart’s models are used for researches and studies to further explain the human mind (Rao & Sinharay, 2007).
Ernst Heinrich Weber succeeded Herbart. Weber works of Herbart’s idea and attempts to attest the presence of a psychological inception. Weber’s concept is regarding the senses’ initiation or activation caused by the stimulus. Next to Weber is Gustav Fechner who then extended the information gathered from the last two. Fechner formulates the law indicating the process of the stimulus and senses (Rao & Sinharay, 2007). J.E. Herbert, Ernst Heinrich Weber and Gustav Fechner have contributed to the studies of psychophysical theory. Wilhelm Wundt, the adherent of Fechner and Weber, generates the study of psychology and eventually for other researchers to develop psychological testing.
In 1936, with the help of L. L. Thurstone’s colleagues and graduate students, Thurstone, a psychometrician, is the first president and the founder of the Psychometric Society, creates and uses the approach which was closely related to Weber and Gustav. Thurstone denotes the comparative judgment law, thus, creating significant contributions to the analysis and development pf psychological testing (Rao & Sinharay, 2007). According to the British Psychological Society, psychometric test defines as an instrument designed to produce a quantitative assessment of some psychological attribute or attributes (Carter, 2011).
The main objective of this test is to gain an accurate bearing of the individual’s cognitive abilities and personality or behavioral style. Psychometric tests can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the most common uses are as follows: selection of personnel, individual development and training, team building and development, career development and progression.
The test is commonly used by companies during the process of selection in order to measure the mind of an individual. This assessment includes if the individual can do the work required and the suitability of the individual’s character to the employment or work. Psychometric tests comprise reasoning tests, personality profiles, ability assessments and motivation questionnaires which provide objective information for otherwise subjective measurements. For instance, if an individual wants to determine the attitude of the other individual, it’s either one can directly ask the other, observe the individual’s actions, or even gather observations about the individual from others (Stabile, n.d.).
Psychometric tests can measure the three aspects: personality, interest, and aptitude. The personality tests measure how an individual vary in style, in the way of undertaking things, and in the process interact with the situation as well as to other individuals. The interest tests measure how individual differ in the values, views and motivation relative to the interests. The aptitude tests measures how an individual differ in the ability to perform or carry out different tasks (Cutt, 2007).
There are two main categories of psychometric tests used. One is the aptitude test or others called cognitive test, which is intended to measure the abilities of an individual in a general area or in a specific area. Intelligence test and ability test is used in this category.

The Psychometric Tests

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The test is consists of series of questions, tests or exercises and/or tasks. It can also provide key insights, ability to communicate, make decisions and calculate the cause and effect in certain scenarios. Under this test, there are six main cognitive or aptitude type such as abstract or conceptual, verbal, numerical, mechanical, spatial and emotional reasoning.
The second category is the behavioral section which consists of personality questionnaires, interview based on competencies, and assessment center exercises such as group exercises, role play exercises, situational judgment tests, written exercises, case studies and more. Its objective is to assess personality characteristics and forecast interpersonal difficulties.
More or less the test is were used to measure problem-solving ability and determine whether an individual has the potential to supervise others. Lately, the theory of psychometrics had been used in the range of sensations such as attitude, personality, intelligence, attainments or achievements. The measurement of these sensations is very challenging. In order to measure and define properly there must be thorough studies or researches to achieve its objectives. Realizing that there is a need to do comprehensive studies on hidden characteristics, the different psychometrics personality testing techniques were born.

Origin of Techniques

In measuring the educational capacity or intelligence of an individual, psychometrics is widely used to this case there are various techniques developed to in order to measure it. One of the techniques was developed in 1900s by the French psychologist, Alfred Binet. It is called the Stanford-Binet IQ Test (Becker, 2003). The French government had asked Binet to develop a technique in order to identify the students experiencing difficulty attending schools. The laws require all French children to join school in order to determine those students who need specialized assistance. With this, together with colleague, Theodore Simon creates a number of questions which focuses on things which are not taught inside the classroom like memory, problem-solving and attention (Becker, 2003). Thus, Binet was able to come up based on the observation that the measure of intelligence depends on the abilities and age of students.
This testing technique becomes the basis for the intelligence tests used until today even though there are several revisions made through the years. The test is brought to the United States and Lewis Terman, a psychologist from Stanford University, gives interest and standardizes it. In 1916, it became the standard intelligence test in the United States and is published, called the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. This test uses the intelligence quotient to denote the score.
In 1917, beginning the World War I, Robert Yerkes, the president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and chair of the Committee on the Psychological Examination of Recruits, generates the two tests called the Army Alpha and Beta tests in order to screen the massive number of recruits in the army. The Army Alpha is intended for the written tests. The Army Beta is designed for verbal or oral tests for those who did not know how to write. When the war ended, these tests are still in used even outside the army troops (Rao & Sinharay, 2007).
In 1955, David Wechsler, the American psychologist, who is unsatisfied with Binet’s effort, develops the new measurement instrument called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). Wechsler believes that the intelligence includes a number of different abilities of the mind. Wechsler also generates the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), the Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) and the version for adult WAIS-IV. (Beers & Goldstein 2004) Some methods emerge such as Rasch Model, Classical Test Theory (CTT) and Item Response Theory (IRT) (Furr & Bacharach, 2014).
Further, the methods used in measuring the attitudes include the Likert Scale and the Hyperbolic Cosine Model. However, personality is one of the emphases in psychometrics. Many methods of measuring the personality were produced. Some of these are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Personality and Preference Inventory, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the famous Five-Factor Model or the so-called Big 5 (Cutt et al., 2007).
In 1970’s, Lewis Goldberg, Paul Costa, Warren Norman and Robert McRae were the four researchers who launched the Big Five Personality Test as psychometric evaluation technique. This team of researchers establishes the five factors, traits, or characteristics as they are called, which are used to describe the human mind and personality (Aequus, 2015).

The Big Five Personality Traits

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The first trait is open to experience which refers to holding new adventures, emotions, new ideas, and settings rather than being reserved, imaginative, cautious, and traditional. The second is conscientious which refers to the act dutifully, practice organization, dependable, and express self-discipline than to be irresponsible, careless, distant and spontaneous behavior. Extraversion is the third one which is being sociable and talkative, and spending time with others and being talkative than to be introverted or avoidance of social situations. The fourth one is the agreeableness which is being kind, compassionate and forging rather than being unkind, apathetic and cold-hearted. The last one is being stable such as moody, unpredictable and stressed than to feel happy and balance in mentality. These different factors or different traits correlate each other without over overlapping intended to different ages and to different cultures. The big five model is commonly accepted as the reliable measure of human personality and the way to achieve reflection of the self.  This test is used among others to disclose the weaknesses and strength of the character of an individual (Allic & McCrae, 2002).

The Strengths and Limitations

The psychometric tests are widely-used in this modern time. These techniques are very important methods in measuring the personality of an individual which are most likely used in recruitment or hiring process and career development. More companies or employers implement different testing techniques in hiring potential individuals (Stabile, n.d.). There are strengths and limitations brought by these techniques. These strengths will give a way for the process to become more effective and more efficient when used appropriately. However, those weaknesses will serve as the challenges faced by the company in order to improve the use and application of these techniques.
One of the strengths is the knowledge of the companies on the potential individuals with regard to the personalities, attitudes, skills and capabilities. Using these personality tests together with series of interviews the company could assess the capacity or capabilities if the individuals are fit to the job. All companies want to ensure of hiring the right and competent individual for the job (Stabile, n.d.). The tests will result to personnel and career-related assessments to be more objective. Measuring and evaluating individual are a highly difficult and subjective process. It also serves as icebreaker to encourage the client to discuss issues or examine thoughts and emotions.
Because of the different personality testing techniques exist decades ago and improvisation until this modern time, there has been an increase in recognition of the individuals as well as companies. Some companies generate its own tests resulting to variety of tests available for hiring of individuals. This also, gives companies a standard to work to with regard to objectively measured abilities. It can also give the company the upfront information on individual’s limitations and strengths before hiring. The tests have its capability and potential in screening the individuals, its competencies and efficiency on the future job.
These tests also save a great deal of time. It can be given to a group of individuals easily. Other types of tests can be given individually. Usually, the tests were very easy to manage. These tests can be timed as ten minutes, twenty five minutes and even can go beyond one hour. These techniques are also easily scored; therefore, the results can be given back quickly and even reliably. Others need training and special skills in order to manage the test as well as the score and the interpretation (Stabile, n.d.). This, again, provides a time advantage, and it can reduce costs significantly compared to other methods. Individuals can take the tests from anywhere, and the results are accurately scored each time.
Some of the tests are completed through written, some are using software programs, and some can be completed online or through net. The online tests’ strengths include low cost in managing since there is no need for the materials to be printed. Online tests are much cheaper and attractive to many companies. Another is that the results are processed immediately because it is computer generated and produces a detailed and remarkable result.
Among the limitations these tests could have includes inaccuracy of the results since the tests explained or presented unwell. The companies’ in-charge or specialist of hiring individuals had the capacity on giving the tests and influences the behavior of the potential individual. The way the explanations or instructions are conveyed to the individuals will greatly affect the result of the test. Among these include the use of different tones and phrasing in giving instructions as well as the behavior of the in-charge or specialist. Some companies are so much concerned on the results of the tests. Others will not hire the individual because the tests’ results are not good despite the fact that the individual has excelled in other aspects.
Another limitation is the effect of the environment during the tests. Also, the anxiety or nervousness is one of the limitations which are very obvious to most individuals. Because of the fact that the tests were given in a limited time, the individual is so much pressured and conscious resulting to poor performance. Also, the tests if used in particular cultural individuals, overlooks the significance of the usual interviews and checking of the reference, could result to damage.
In using the online tests, there are individuals who do not have the knowledge in using the computers are most likely to fail the tests since there is no exposure to these types of tests. However, most of the individuals or job-seekers now are computer literate and thus, can adapt to the online tests if the company requires doing so. There is also a possibility of deceitful on tests given. The individual will try its best to answer what is the hiring company looking for and not on its truthful perspectives. Thus, there is a manipulation of the tests since the individual knows what is supposed to be measured. There are also websites and other online resources which could provide information about the different types of tests and how to handle it.
On the other hand, the weaknesses of these techniques were as follows: the individual’s answers can be influenced by the attitude of the one who is giving the tests and even on the test setting. Scoring of the tests is highly subjective since the interpretations of answers may vary intensely from one individual to the other. Some techniques especially if it is a situational do not have standard of scoring or grading scales. Thus, there is a tendency for the answers to be of lack in both validity and reliability (Stabile, n.d.).


Effective psychometric tests must be relevant to the modern workplace. Many companies or employers use different techniques to recognize the personality. Consequently, most of these tests will be expected hiring process. Personality has a significant role to play in deciding whether the individual have the enthusiasm and motivation that the employer is looking for. It also determines how well the individual is going to fit in to the organization, in terms of personality, attitude and general work style. The principle behind these tests is that it is possible to quantify the personality by asking about the feelings, thoughts and behaviour in various situations leading to the success of the company. But before using one of these tests, it is needed to make sure the tests have been validated and updated recently so that the objective is achieved in the long run both by the individual and the company.


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