Psychometry is a special type of psychology. It's the science of figuring
out the characters, surroundings and events connected with a person.
Psychometrists (sometimes called quantitative psychologists) may figure
out ways for a business to test job candidates to see who will succeed in
the job and who won't. In the education field, they may test children who
are having trouble in school to see what the problem is, as well as find out
what the child does well.
"Probably the most important characteristics we look at are the validity
and reliability of tests," says psychometrist Barry Spinner. "Do they measure
what they are supposed to be measuring and how accurately do they measure
it? Psychometricians are also involved in administering, scoring and interpreting
standard psychological tests."
The results are often used by:
Kim Surette is a psychometrist who works in the medical field. She says
what she likes is the clinical side of her job. "I am a clinical psychometrist,
so it is probably the therapy I like the most -- the clinical side, [including]
therapy and psychological assessments."
The hardest thing about her job is seeing how people have been abused.
Surette says that in order to succeed in her job, a person needs "good
people skills -- it's hard to learn that -- and the ability to leave things
at work, not bring them home. Also being able to work in [many] disciplines,
not only with other psychologists but also with psychiatrists."
But another psychometrist in another area of medicine might do a completely
different type of work. Richard Lennox studies information that is gathered
by researchers and looks for mistakes, like when a question is poorly worded
and the person filling out the survey does not know what the researcher meant
by that question.
Frances Berger helps companies answer questions such as, "What staff members
might be good at computer programming?" She says she never gets bored of her
"There are so many different parts and activities to developing a test,"
says Berger. "First, defining what the field is. Doing the job analysis. Then
analyzing those data. Then getting the subject matter experts together and
getting them to write items."
There are many things psychometrists can do in business, says Berger. For
instance, they could work with the human resource department of a company.
They could look at the different jobs in the company to find out how each
job measures up to all the others. This information can then determine such
things as how much each job pays.
If you were working in a company doing this, you could be doing a number
of different things, "from clerical administration of tests, all the way to
the higher process of test development itself," explains Berger.
She says developing tests is very complicated. "It's more than just a professor
sitting in front of a TV set and making up questions from a textbook. Truly
reliable, predictive testing is very carefully developed, and takes a long
time and a lot of research."
Of all the things that she does in her job, Berger likes the analysis best.
"You put all that into the mill and come out with an item analysis -- [you
find out] how each part of it relates. And that is like the end of a mystery
story. You now know whether you have good questions or not and which questions
Regardless of which industry a psychometrist works in, the types of tests
a psychometrist might develop or work on are limitless. One company that provides
tests to human resource departments has hundreds of tests, including:
A more up-and-coming area of psychometrics is in computer artificial intelligence.
A psychometrist uses his understanding of the way humans act when testing
software. Changes are then made to the software program so that it acts more
like a person than a collection of code.
Study differences in what people do, think and feel