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Introduction to psychological testing

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1 Introduction to psychological testing
Welcome to this course section. This section explains the basics of psychological testing. This course section will take about minutes to complete. Click the Forward button to continue.

2 Content What is psychological testing? Why use psychological testing?
General Mental Ability, GMA Why use psychological testing? Important concepts and terms Considerations In this section you will learn about psychological testing. We will start by discussing psychological tests in general and general mental ability tests, or GMA tests, in particular. We will explore the reasons for using psychological testing when making selection decisions. We will explain some important concepts and terms, such as reliability, validity, norms and standard error of measurement. At the end of the section, we will discuss some of the things you need to take into consideration when using psychological tests.

3 Objectives Explain the basic concepts in psychometrics
Describe the role for psychological testing in selection After completing this section you should be able to explain the basic concepts in psychometrics describe the role for psychological testing in selection

4 Different types of psychological tests
General mental ability Personality Interests Motivation Attitudes and values Psychological tests can be used to assess different aspects of the human mind, such as general mental ability, personality, interests, motivation, attitudes and values. Mark with a cross the part or parts which together with the figure on the left make up a square.

5 General Mental Ability (GMA)
General cognitive capacity Refers to fundamental characteristics ability to address and find solutions to problems and demands A stable characteristic over time In this course we will focus on tests that assess general mental ability, or GMA. GMA can be defined as a general cognitive capacity that encompasses, among other things, an ability to solve problems, plan and draw logical conclusions. GMA does not refer to a specific capability or talent, but to the fundamental characteristics that the individual possesses with regard to the ability to address, and find solutions to, the great variation in problems and demands that one faces on a daily basis. GMA is a stable characteristic over time and in adults it undergoes only small changes at an individual level.

6 The history of GMA research
During the slightly more than one hundred years that theories regarding the nature of intelligence have been presented, researchers and theorists have tried to measure this factor constructively. Researchers have discussed whether general mental ability, or cognitive ability, is made up of one general factor or several different abilities. Although it is true that some candidates can get differing results on different types of ability tests, it is also true that there is a general factor of intelligence that runs through different types of problem solving. If for instance a candidate is good at solving numerical problems, she will also find it is easy to analyze verbal information. There is now a widespread acceptance for the theory of general problem solving capacity, or the g-factor which it is commonly called. We will not go into any detail in this course, but in the Matrigma Technical Manual, which you can find by clicking the Recources button, you can find more background information on the subject. However, we will discuss some of the aspects here.

7 The g factor Cognitive ability, g factor
Mark with a cross the part or parts which together with the figure on the left make up a square. Cognitive ability, g factor Best captured by tasks that challenge the ability to see relations fill in gaps find connections Response alternatives 1 Draw a line below the two numbers that add up to 13. 2 If 3 times 15 equals 36, write 45 in the square. Otherwise, draw a line below 36. no yes GMA is also known as cognitive ability or the g factor. GMA is best captured by tasks/items which challenge the ability to see hidden relations, fill in gaps where information is missing, see relations between objects and find the connections between separate figures. The problem solving can concern different types of tasks, such as verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning or spatial reasoning.

8 Definitions of GMA

9 Why use psychological testing?
Different individuals have different characteristics Characteristics affect performance Differences are measurable Performance can be predicted Let us start by having a look at the reasons for why it is a good idea to use psychological tests and how they can help us in different types of selection processes, such as recruitment. The basic argument for using psychological testing is built up of the following four statements: Different individuals have different characteristics. These characteristics affect our job performance. The differences are measurable and can be assessed. Job performance can be predicted – and certain individuals have a better ”fit”. Do you agree? Reflect upon this before you continue.

10 Selection decisions Who to hire Who to promote
Best used for making decisions about: Unknown candidates Candidates in unknown or new roles Measures potential Important factor for predicting performance Other factors: corporate culture team composition coaching and training Selection decisions are inevitable in almost all organizations. Psychological testing can be used as an aid in many of these decisions, for example when deciding who to hire or who to promote. Psychological testing is best used for making decisions about unknown candidates, for instance in external recruitments, and candidates in unknown or new roles, i.e. an internal candidate’s promotion to manager. A psychological test is concerned with measuring the potential for carrying out different work tasks and roles. The result on a psychological test is an important factor that will affect the performance of the candidate. Other factors that also predict the performance is for instance the corporate culture, the team composition or the coaching and training of the candidate on the job.

11 Selection methods In a selection process you can use different selection methods, such as interviews, GMA tests, etc. Which methods do you think are the most accurate and effective when it comes to finding the high performers in a group of individuals? Order the different methods by how effective you think they are. Place the most effective methods at the top. Click the OK- button for feedback.

12 What does research tell us?
GMA test + personality inventory .65 GMA test + structured interview .63 GMA test .51 Personality inventory .41 Years of Professional Experience .18 Research tells us some interesting things about the validity of different selection methods. This chart shows the correlation between assessment method and job performance. The chart is taken from a large study that was conducted by two prominent researchers in the field of assessment and psychometrics. It includes decades of research and thousands of individuals in the studies which supports the notion that the results are both stable over time and in different types of context, such as different organizations. As you can see, GMA tests clearly improve the chances of making the right decision, if used in a selection process. Not only do GMA tests help us to find the top performers. Research from Europe and North America also shows that, compared to other methods, GMA tests predict job performance in a superiorly cost-efficient way. Years of Education .10 Graphology .02 Correlation between assessment method and job performance From Schmidt, F. & Hunter, J. (1998) The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications for 85 Years of Research Findings, Psychological Bulletin, 124:2,

13 Important concepts and terms
Standard Error of Measurement Reliability Normal distribution Validity Psychometrics We will now discuss some important concepts and terms in the field of psychological testing. Norms

14 Important concepts and terms
Here you can see some basic terms. Try to match the terms with the corresponding explanations, by dragging and dropping. Click the OK button for feedback.

15 Psychometrics The field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. Psychological testing aspires to measure relatively stable human characteristics and capabilities that make it possible to better understand and predict individual behavior in a range of situations. A psychological test can be defined as an objective, standardized measurement of a characteristic or a capability. When creating such a test, the use of psychometrics is essential for the test to be valid and reliable. The test itself must be validated and accurately documented.

16 Low reliability Let us start with the concept of reliability. Reliability is concerned with the stability of the test. If a candidate took a test twice, we should get the same result the second time, taking into account that we measure stable characteristics of the candidate. Low reliability means that the measurement is unreliable. If a candidate took the test over again he/she would get a different result.

17 High reliability High reliability means that the measurement is accurate. If a candidate took the test over again, he/she would get a similar result.

18 High reliability and validity
Of course, when using a test we want both high reliability and high validity. High validity means that the test measures what it claims to measure.

19 Normal distribution 16 % 68 % 16 %
A basic characteristic of a quality psychological test is that the test results are arranged according to a normal distribution. This means that the majority of results are clustered around the average of the group. We can find 68 % of the group in the average area. In the low area we can find 16 % of the group and 16 % in the high area. 16 % 68 % 16 %

20 21 18 23 Norms Your result All employees Managers Good or bad?
Let us say you performed a test and got a score of 21 out of 25. Is that good or bad? Well, that depends of course on what you compare your result to – the norm. If the test is distributed to large population, for example all employees in a company, and the average result is 18, you are above average. But if you compare yourself to a sub group within this population, for example all managers in the company, the average for this group is 23, and you are below average. To be able to interpret the results of a psychological test in a meaningful way, the individuals’ results always have to be compared to a relevant norm group. A well defined and developed test always has a clear description of the norms and how the underlying data was collected. Good or bad?

21 Standard error of measurement (SEM)
All psychometric tests include measurement errors, which are taken into account in the interpretation of individual test scores. This measurement error is called standard error of measurement, SEM. In this example we are using a C-scale, which goes from 0 to 10, to grade the candidates’ results on a test. The SEM on the C-scale is +/- 1 C-point. This means that a result of 8 point with 95 % probability is in the 7-9 point interval. C-scale

22 Application processing
Considerations Recruitment need Advertising Application processing Interview Reference check Employment Front end solution Back end solution When using psychological tests, a number of things must be taken into consideration, such as Do you have a good testing environment? How are you going to interpret the scores? Positive or negative selection? How many candidates are you going to test? Front end or back end solution?

23 The test environment Make sure that the candidate can work undisturbed
Inform the candidate prior to testing Take computer skills and reading compre- hension into account Tests can be administered in supervised conditions with a test administrator present or in unsupervised conditions, for instance when a candidate receives a link via and completes the test at home. Either way, we should always strive for as a high quality of the test environment as possible. Make sure that the candidate can work undisturbed when taking the test. Inform the candidate prior to testing that a test will be administered, how the results will be used and how the results are stored. Take into account that a candidate’s computer skills and reading comprehension can affect the results.

24 Validity No testing methods have a 100% predictive validity
High test results Low test results Remember that no testing methods have a 100 % predictive validity. This means it is better to evaluate on a group level (to see trends) rather than to look at specific individuals. Not all individuals that get high results on a GMA test are rated as high performers when their job performance is evaluated by others. And vice versa, individuals that are rated as high performers do not always get high results on tests. High performer Low performer

25 Validity How many of the individuals rated as high performers in organizations would you expect to get high or very high results in a GMA test? Select the option you think is correct and click the OK button for feedback.

26 Positive or negative selection?
When using a psychological test you need to consider the focus of the selection – negative or positive? Traditionally we focus on selecting individuals with a high GMA – positive selection. But selection can also be concerned with not selecting individuals with a low GMA – negative selection. Low GMA High GMA

27 Front end or back end? You test a lot of candidates: front end solution You test a few candidates: back end solution Recruitment need Advertising Application processing Interview Reference check Employment Another consideration when using a psychological test is at what point in time in the selection process you use it. A front end solution means using tests early on in a recruitment process for a large group of candidates. The result contributes to a large degree to the decision to move on candidates in the process. The test results are normally used for predictive purposes. A back end solution means using tests at a later stage for a smaller number of candidates. The tests contribute to a smaller degree to a hiring decision. The test results are normally used for descriptive purposes. Using tests as a front end solution rather than a back end solution will be a way of letting the test results have a greater impact on the hiring decision, it will also save time and will over time increase the quality of the test results of the individuals that get hired. Example of staffing process

28 Front end Process: Check basic requirements Psychological test
Interview and reference check Let’s take a look at a particular scenario and what the benefits could be. Consider if we post a job for a Sales Manager position and we receive 120 applications. During the application processing we can see that 100 of these fulfill the basic requirements for the position. When using a psychological test as a front end solution you would strive to test as many as possible. You would test the 100 candidates. You would rank order the candidates with regards to test results and perhaps move 10 people on interviews and reference checks.

29 Back end Process: Check basic requirements Short phone interview
Interview and reference check Psychological test When using a psychological test as a back end solution you would probably include some other screening procedure, after checking the basic requirements. Perhaps this would be a short phone interview before the final interviews. You would probably interview a greater number of candidates for the position; say 20 or 30, and move only a few of them on to the psychological test. Furthermore, you would risk finding yourself in a situation where you would meet a candidate that performs well on the interview and the reference check – but has an average or even a low test result.

30 Summary Basic argument: SEM = standard error of measurement
Different individuals have different characteristics Characteristics affect performance Differences are measurable Performance can be predicted GMA tests helps predicting performance Reliability = stability of test results Validity = evidence for the utility of the method, e.g. correlation between test and job performance SEM = standard error of measurement Can be used for both positive and negative selection Can be used as front end or back end solution The basic argument for using psychological testing is built on the assumption that different individuals have different characteristics, that these characteristics affect job performance, that the differences can be assessed and that job performance can be predicted. Research proves that testing general mental ability is a very effective method for predicting job performance. The reliability of a test describes the stability of the test results. The validity describes how well you measure what you claim to measure. It gives evidence for the utility of the method, e.g. correlation between test and job performance. All tests have a standard error of measurement, SEM, which must be taken into account. GMA tests can be used for both positive and negative selection, i.e. to identify both high and low job performance. GMA tests can be used as a front end or back end solution.

31 You have now completed this course section and you can continue to the next: About Matrigma.
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