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Psychometrics for Beginners

Many of us have taken online pop-psychology tests before (e.g. Which Avenger character are you?). They’re fun and sometimes give us interesting insights into our personalities. Ever wondered what the difference is between these social media quizzes and actual Psychometric Tests?

To answer that question let’s start off by taking a look at the textbook definition of Psychometrics so we’re all on the same page:

Psychometrics /sʌɪkə(ʊ)ˈmɛtrɪks/


1. the science of measuring mental capacities and processes.

Okay, that’s a little too vague, so let’s give Wikipedia a shot: 

Psychometrics is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement… Generally, it refers to the field in psychology and education that is devoted to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities. 

In the Talent Science department, we are using Psychometrics to help develop tests to measure and assess strengths and identify useful skills and abilities relevant to the rapidly changing workplace. With Psychometrics we can more confidently measure invisible psychological traits that give us an advantage in various situations – we call these traits Talents. So what is so special about them?

1) The levels of traits we measure can be directly related to the probability that a person will exhibit certain behaviour at work (e.g. a high trait of extraversion increases the probability of the person engaging in small talk). 

2) Traits can be strengths in certain situations. Just like wings help birds thrive in the air and gills help fish breath underwater, our traits give us advantages in some situations, while they may be disadvantages in others. Some of us work better under pressure, some prefer rules and procedures, while others demand a lot of freedom and autonomy to be productive and creative. 

cartoon by Hans Traxler, 1976

3) Some traits get an additional boost when combined with complementary traits of other people. Teams add another dimension to Psychometrics because we can observe how psychological traits interact, collide and support each other. Every high-view thinker needs a coworker who has their feet firmly planted on the ground. Every project can be successful if we mix team members traits in the right proportions (Again think Avengers).

So now that you know a bit more about Psychometrics, here’s some specific use cases of the ways we are leveraging Psychometrics at Talent Alpha:

Strength-Focused Measurement – We measure many traits, but focus on and nourish the ones that can give Talent the biggest advantage in their current or dream role. We find positives in every human and help identify the ways to grow their strengths. Following the approach of the Gallup Institute, we think that trying to compensate for weaknesses is not an effective strategy. Our natural talents are things that we are both better at and we enjoy doing, so it’s effortless to practice them and become an expert. We can still learn how to manage our weaknesses so they don’t interfere with our success. 

Matching & Recommendations – Based on our Psychometric research, we aim to discover unique success factors – connections between traits and environments that produce the best results. On this basis we can recommend that Talent work on a specific project with certain characteristics or perhaps pursue another role, or vice versa.  We can let Talent know which traits they should nourish to be better prepared for their dream job in their organization.

I hope this post was helpful and if you are looking for more info about Psychometrics head HERE  or if you want to read more about the “Strength-Based Philosophy of Testing” head HERE.

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