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Psychometric Guide   | 2 Min Read

Chapter 6: Can Psychometric Tests be Gamed?

Written By Nishant Muralidharan
This is an important part of the testing process - the results. A test is only as good as its results, and much of it is based on the quality metrics behind which a test is made. Namely - validity, reliability, and norming with respect to a standardized test group. To start with results from an assessment battery that includes the science of psychometrics is primarily relative.

The relativity implies that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this form of testing, especially when it comes to the personality testing aspect. With cognitive tests stemming from the assessment of intelligence; however, it is possible to have right or wrong answers there. Since psychometrics function as a combination of the two, the overall result also borders on relativity.

But as is with every result, the scores are merely a reflection of how accurate a test taker was with respect to the test guidelines. This is why it is a commonplace for organizations to utilize professional psychometricians to interpret results from extensive test reports. This could extrapolate to the right hire, the identification of high potential employees for leadership, understanding progress in L&D initiatives, or more.

why-response-style-matters-in-the-test-interpretationCan Psychometric Tests be Gamed?

The degree of fakability largely contributes to the quality of a psychometric test in inverse proportionality. It implies that the test should, at least to a certain degree, manage to understand if the responses provided are genuine. It is relevant to examine the extent to which a test is prone to deliberate response distortion.[87]

Depending on the scale, it is possible to categorize response styles in the following manner:


For a better understanding of the situation, let’s present a scale to your benefit. Bear in mind that there are multiple scales when it comes to psychometric tests, some more sophisticated than the rest. The degree of sophistication, however, rests solely on its ability to function as a deterrent to red flag responding.


Adverse Impact identifies with employment practices that appear neutral but pose a discriminatory effect on specific groups. It may occur in hiring, promotions, layoffs, performance appraisals, horizontal or vertical transfers, and even training initiatives. The term is often interchangeably used with disparate impact - a legal term coined in a significant U.S. Supreme Court ruling. [88]

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines and the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures cite adverse impact as a substantially different rate of promotion, selection in hiring or other employment-related decisions that work to the disadvantage of members of a particular race, ethnic group, or sex.

But definitions aside, test interpretation is possible only with a high degree of neutrality. This would imply that the results are better diagnosed from tests low on Adverse impact.


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Topics: Psychometric Guide

Originally published June 20 2019,updated October 12 2019

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