How to Tell if a Personality Assessment Tool is Valid

how to tell if a personality assessment tool is valid

When we talk about the “validity” of personality assessments, what we are referring to is if the personality assessment actually measures what it purports to measure. Validation is not a stamp of approval by any governmental agency but rather a study undertaken and directed by the test publisher in accordance with certain professional standards.

When looking for the right personality assessment tool, you should ensure that the publisher of the assessment tool has conducted the proper validity studies. Below are the types of validity that you should be looking for when choosing the right personality assessment tool:

Construct validity

Refers to the degree to which an assessment tool measures the construct that the assessment was designed to measure. For example, does the personality test actually measure someone's personality traits?

Construct validity is then broken down into 5 different types of validity:

Face validity

Refers to the degree to which an assessment appears at “face” value to measure what it’s intended to measure. This is the weakest form of evidence, so don’t rely on it too much (think, never judge a book by its cover). However, the way an assessment seems to people is an important indicator of attitudes towards a particular assessment tool.

Content validity

Refers to the extent to which a measure represents all facets of a given construct. For example, a final exam has good content validity if it covers all the material that students were supposed to learn over the course of the semester.

Criterion validity

Refers to the extent to which assessment results are correlated with other variables that reflect the same construct. For example, high IQ should reflect good grades.

Criterion-related validity is then broken down into concurrent validity and predictive validity.

Concurrent validity

Refers to when test results correlate with a separate test’s results taken at the same time.

Predictive validity.

Refers to when a criterion to be measured in the future correlates with results of a given assessment. For example, SAT scores should predict college grades.

Another example: when an employer hires people for a job based on normal hiring procedures (interviewing, reference checks, education/experience, etc.) and at the same time has them complete the pre-employment assessment but does not utilize any data from it in the hiring decision. Later down the line, the pre-employment assessment is scored, and benchmarks are established of the people who were hired in the new jobs who are still with the employer and whom the employer consider successful. Job Benchmark Standards are thus established through the Predictive approach.

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