The Value of Psychometric Assessments

Updated: Apr 6

A quick google search on the term produces about 97,800,000 million results in 0.62 seconds. This clearly points to its popularity. But what is it and why is it popular?

Psychometric assessments are psychological tests based on scientifically validated theories to gain an objective understanding of some relevant area of functioning. They are used in a variety of contexts and may serve different purposes depending on the underlying theories. Contexts in which these tests are commonly employed are occupational, forensic, educational and clinical settings. However, the sports industry is also seeing a rise in demand fuelled by the data-driven economy and the need to better manage and understand the well-being of athletes.

This means that psychometric assessments are being used across a variety of sectors and populations to serve a wide range of needs and demands. Nonetheless, the main objective of these tests is always to gain better insights into the overall functioning, behaviour, thinking and feeling patterns of an individual or group. All tests can be grouped under personality or ability assessments. Whereas the former aims to understand preferences and motives, the latter aims to understand capability. It’s often said that while ability tests reveal what a person can do, personality tests reveal what they’ll usually do. For this reason, ability alone may not always lead to the desired performance or behaviour because of the constant influence of contextual preferences and motivation.

All that being said, ability tests remain the single best predictor of performance across contexts with a predictive validity of 0.51. Assessment centres (AC) may fare slightly better (0.53) but they involve multiple forms of assessments and are usually more expensive. Ability tests, also known as intelligence or general mental ability tests (GMA), aim to understand how quickly a person can learn, apply and make sense of information. It consists of a general component (g factor) and sub-components in the form of numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning tests.

According to scientific findings, the g factor is a reliable predictor of how well someone will do in different types of tests and different contextual situations. The different subcomponents correlate stronger to different jobs and sectors. For example, accountants may score significantly higher on the sub-components of numerical reasoning than non-accountants.

Compared to intelligence tests, personality tests in their many forms sits at a lower predictive validity of 0.33. However, the true validity of each personality test may vary depending on the nature of the specific task and the situational context. Similar to intelligence, specific components of personality may hold stronger predictive power depending on the specific context. For example, recent findings (link) reported emotional intelligence (EI) to have a predictive validity of 0.45 and is particularly relevant for jobs involving emotional labour (e.g bankers, salespeople etc). However, this predictive power drops significantly for jobs such as being a physician or researcher.

Overall, psychometric assessments in the form of ability and personality tests are known to be an objective measure of performance, development and selection processes. The right assessments are grounded in strong empirical evidence and can be used to prevent costly mistakes or judgement errors. Their ability to aid judgement, cut costs and contribute to performance has fuelled their significance. In addition, their ease of use makes them suitable to reach many people time efficiently.

Are you going through a selection process, looking to develop or improve performance? Speak to our team and learn how we can help.

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