Julie Ensor, Product Development Lead, Lumina Learning
& Dr Stewart Desson, CEO, Lumina Learning
With technology and big data, the psychometric landscape is changing rapidly.
There is a famous quote by Sir Arthur Charles Clark: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ And actually, what we’re doing with our Splash app, if you’d told us 25 years ago that we’d measure your personality, you can compare it to someone else, and it all runs by magic on your phone, it would have seemed like magic to us just 25 years ago. That’s pretty cool.
Over the past 25 years, technology, and consequently psychometrics, have come a long way. So where could we see psychometric testing going in the future?
In 2017, Robert McHenry, founder of OPP, had a chapter on ‘The Future of Psychometric Testing’ published in a book called Psychometric Testing: Critical Perspectives. In this text, he makes a lot of key predictions about where the field of psychometrics is going. Only a year on, we thought we’d examine and reflect on these predictions.
Prediction #1: Smartphones will replace computers for employee assessment
This is really already happening in the market. If you look at the majority of psychometric companies out there now, you’ll see more and more in their branding, their marketing, that they’re really emphasising the fact that their questionnaires are mobile friendly.
What about us? We actually have a mobile and tablet friendly questionnaire available, with a new clean slick design to provide a great user experience.
Prediction #2: High-quality psychometric testing services will be sold direct to consumers
This is sort of happening in the market – we can see on Facebook and other social media sites that we’re invited and enrolled to engage in other things and buy things directly.
What about us? This is partly the idea of having a Lumina Learning platform where people can go and re-engage with us as individuals, rather than just through their organisations. We’re planning on enhancing the platform by adding e-learning, giving people a reason to go back, to log in at their choice as individuals, and to engage with the resources available to them.
Another thing that we’re working on right now is Lumina Gift. Here, if someone’s completed Lumina Spark and they want to share the experience with their friends or family on a non-commercial basis, we’re going to make that available as a Lumina gift, enabling them to redeem a free portrait to be used with friends and family.
Prediction #3: Advances in neuroscience of personality will reveal which are the most valid individual differences to measure and how best to measure them
One of the other big predictions is the impact that neuroscience will have on psychometric testing, or basically a new way to look at people’s personalities. Interestingly, it’s actually already happening – there’s some research where they’ve actually mapped the Big5 onto some different functions of the brain. So, for example, conscientiousness is linked to activity in the prefrontal cortex. It’s very, very interesting. So Robert McHenry’s prediction is that these will tell you what are the most interesting individual differences to look at and therefore where to focus on.
So, it is happening, and it’ll be interesting to see how applications emerge from that.
Prediction #4: The digital movement, coupled with the use of big data and new forms of digital CV will render many of the current applications for high-stakes psychometric testing redundant
Here we’re talking about the passive collection of data to measure your personality. So, this could be through your tweets or your likes on Facebook. This is a pretty big movement – you probably will have heard of it through things like Cambridge Analytica and the Facebook scandal that has emerged, which is really changing how we actually view the benefits of this – it’s kind of opened up a bit of a can of worms.
But Robert’s view is that by using this big data, you’ll be able to bypass ever having to fill in a psychometric for a job for example, which is quite a big statement.
What do we think? The way it’s gone with GDPR, Cambridge Analytica, data privacy, it’s unlikely to be okay that you turn up at a job interview and they’ve analysed all your social media and that’s the basis of it. There’s an interesting divide here, between mathematicians and AI people, and psychologists. In fact, there’s a bit of a war going on between them. And the war goes a bit like this: the AI people, the mathematicians, they love black boxes, they’re going to look at your social media, gather all your data, and figure it all out. But it’s a black box and they don’t often know what’s going on. And the psychologists are striving for a transparent box where we know what’s going on so it’s fair, so there’s no adverse impact, and it’s all done ethically and so on.
It’s interesting to note that this prediction came in 2017 when the book was released. It would be interesting to know, post Cambridge Analytica, post Facebook scandal, whether things might have changed a bit on this prediction.
Prediction #5: The basis for employee development will be derived from the data yielded by wearable devices and not from psychometric tests
This prediction is about moving away from taking a psychometric test, instead maybe putting on a heart monitor or smartphone app, and that will basically be how we do development and coaching in the future.
It’s sort of already happening. There’s a study where someone was designing a set of offices and they tagged everybody and gathered data on their movements, their heartbeat and so on. And from that they found out that certain designs were bad for collaboration, created anxiety, and other ones were better. So, this is definitely happening. On the other hand we’re yet to figure out how you can do that and figure out your splash and who you really are. Unless they invent a device that really can read your brain it seems unlikely in the next couple of decades. We’re not going to be deriving peoples’ splash and personality from this sort of thing at the moment, but it’s definitely the way the market is going.
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