Addicted to the science of people?

Psychometrics is essentially about predicting the future, especially when it comes to people and their organisational fit. Some might say, it’s all pretty much a best, bet guess about how people will behave going forward.  Every psychometric test falls within the scientific paradigm which sounds pretty harmless, and even impressive, until I understood what that actually means.

The Scientific or Positivist paradigm assumes that reality is stable and exists even when we don’t. That is based on a fundamental assumption that we cannot trust people and must thus come up with consistent and reliable measurement tools. In short, our opinions and views must be ignored and bypassed.  The scientific model also agrees to pursue disproving all previous insights and proven assumptions, and thus demands a continual skepticism. And there is no space for any grey.

To be honest, my whole body doesn’t reverberate with excitement at this world view.

The Interpretative paradigm suggests that we can never really know what is real and that everything is interpreted through our history and is totally subjective. There are thus multiple realities, and lots of grey.

According to the Constructionist paradigm, reality is a construct based on the interactions between people and things, therefore no people and no interaction, then no reality. Even more grey. Let me remind you that science does not like grey.

Here is my challenge. I believe strongly in the latter two paradigms, but according to the ethics of science and psychology, I must wholeheartedly believe in the scientific model, and nothing else, if I am to administer psychometric assessments. Oops, to be honest I didn’t know that. What is apparently more of a transgression, is conducting a test and then picking apart the findings from the perspective of another paradigm. Apparently that is like making a chocolate waffle, and asking a wine taster to rank it among the best Merlot in the world.  I think I do this a lot.

Key learning: it is time to be more deliberate and intentional about how I lean on science in my pursuit of relevance and credibility. Whilst skepticism is a scientific value, I can not let my skepticism with psychometric assessments muddy the results. I would be better served trying to disprove the underlying assumptions and thus adding to the field of Psychology. That we don’t do well at all, more of that next time.

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