Psychometric Testing

CPP, Inc., publisher of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment—sometimes mistakenly referred to as the MBTI test—often mentions in manuals, technical briefs, and elsewhere that the assessment has been validated for use in psychometric testing. But what is psychometric testing?

A common definition of psychometry (and psychometrics) is “divining facts concerning a person associated with it, by contact with or proximity to the person.” Psychometric tests are a standard scientific method used to measure an individual’s mental capacity or behavioral style.

However, the difference is large between measuring mental capacity (e.g., one’s ability to solve problems) and measuring behavioral style (e.g., how one takes in information and make decisions) but often overlooked. Because instruments such as the MBTI tool do not measure mental capacity or ability, they’re not recommended for actions such as hiring, selection for teams or projects, or promotion. Instruments do exist that can be used in such instances, such as the CPI 260® instrument, which can be used alongside other assessments during the hiring process.

Another notable difference in psychological assessments used in psychometric testing is whether they are meant to be used solely with “normal” personalities or with all personalities. Many assessments, such as the MBTI assessment, are recommended to be used only with individuals without any psychological or mental disorders. Other assessments are specifically designed to indicate psychological disorders and can be used in practices such as psychotherapy.

One of the most popular psychometric assessments is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), for adult personality and adult psychopathology. Mental health professionals often use this sort of psychometric testing to help develop treatment plans, aid in forensic psychology, screen job candidates and as part of therapy sessions.