Wednesday Psychometrics

We took the Jackson (no relation) Personality Indicator test in PSYCHO390 this week, and the results are interesting.

The JPI uses a battery of true/false questions to interpret your personality along 16 categories of response. After you tally your responses, you get to compare yourself with the statistical norm.
I placed myself very low in "social involvement." Yes, I'm okay with not being around people for a fairly long period of time. No, I don't look forward to each and every telephone call I'll get to make this week. People question my attitudes toward social situations sometimes. Tell me something I didn't already know...

Surprisingly, I placed very high in "social adroitness." (Better known as "people skills", social engineering, hustling, manipulation...) I know that I can be a bit manipulative at times, that I'll sometimes finesse my answer depending on what I think you want, but I didn't think it would show up as an unusual personality trait.

Last year's class (mostly female) showed a very high negative correlation between breadth of interest and value orthodoxy (i.e. they all had approximately Christian ethical positions and very little interest in trying new things.) My "personality indication" was much different, in that I was very high in both categories. Is this because I'm a Conservative Christian in a Liberal Arts University? That can't be it-those good blond Calvinist girls last year went to the same school. Is it because I like spicy food? Would a Conservative from India who was trying to adjust to Canadian food show the same sorts of results? Is it because I'm an ENGL and they were mostly PSYCHOs?

Dr. Peet has been hammering all week on the "hidden ambiguities" of psychometrics, and he's right about the dangerous way bureaucracy feeds on this stuff. Psychology has produced more statistical analysis for government and industry than any other discipline; that's kind of scary.
On the other hand, where's the problem? Psychometrics doesn't claim to explain the deep, repressed, over-determined motivations for all your compulsions, and I don't think anyone is asking it to. So long as we understand that psychometrics relies on theory just as much as "projective" tests like the Rorschach ink blot, and we understand that theory and keep a critical eye on what we're using it for, there shouldn't be a problem.

Yeah. No problems here.
No misplaced assumptions. Right.

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