What is Psychometrics?

| Staff Writers

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Psychometrics is a field that focuses on how to properly measure certain psychological concepts such as cognition, knowledge and personality. This unique field is vital for the success of all psychology branches. Keep reading to learn why and how this special field is so important to psychology.

How it Developed

Psychological measurements began with rudimentary intelligence and personality tests. As the theoretical approaches to psychological measurements became more sophisticated, psychologists began to apply complex data and statistical methodology to understand their results. Because of this, modern psychological measurements are extremely accurate and scientifically sound.

What are the Key Concepts?

Psychological measurements are grounded in classical theories, such as validity and reliability. A valid measure refers to accurate measurements while a reliable measure refers to factual consistency. Both of these concepts can be mathematically interpreted to produce correlating consistencies. For example, consistency can be measured through the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient. On the other hand, validity is measured through establishing concurrent validity, which is used to create predictive validity and therefore, construct validity.

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What Software is Used?

Complex research and warehouses of data cannot be understood or processed by hand. Therefore, psychologists rely on Psychometrics software to analyst their tests and research.

For example, classic test theory software programs include CITAS, TAP and CITAS.

Item Response Theory (IRT) is a scientific approach that predicts probability based on trait functions. Popular programs include Facets, ICL, JMetrik and TestFact.

There are additional software programs that only provide specific calibration results.

What are the Benefits?

All psychology depends on solid research and correctly interpreted results. Originally, psychology was considered a quasi-science because of the over reliance on theories and subjective observation. However, modern psychology now almost completely relies on statistical data and research to support theories.

Cognitive psychologists use psychological measurements to assess biological and cognitive processes. On the other hand, behavioral psychologists rely on psychological measurements to quantify human behavior. Psychologists specializing in abnormal mental health problems use psychological measurements to assess their patients, understand mental diseases, establish diagnosis guidelines and screen new patients. Finally, quantitative psychologists primarily use statistical measurements to perform psychological measurements in different research areas.

Which Fields Use Psychological Measurements?

The educational system is totally dependent on psychological measurements. Annual public school tests and SAT college placement tests all are academic forms of psychological measurements. Standardized tests are the best way to benchmark student performance, identify weak areas and help students improve. Therefore, school counselors and psychologists often rely on psychological tests to help their students.

All branches of the military require candidates to complete the ASVAB test, which is used to determine which jobs the candidate is qualified to perform. In fact, the Department of Defense also created the DLAB test to measure the candidate’s ability to learn foreign languages.

Finally, all law enforcement agencies use standardized tests that measure the candidate’s memory, knowledge, competencies and ability to logically process information. Other unique jobs, such as air traffic controller or 911 operator, will also use specific psychological measurements to screen job applicants.

In the end, psychological measurements are the foundation of scientific credibility for all branches of psychology. These measurements provide excellent validity and reliability in scientific psychological research. Most psychologists use standard interpretive techniques and advanced software programs to analyze data. Without Psychometrics, the field of psychology would revert to vague post-industrial theories about human behavior and thought processes.

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