Tests for Jobseekers Must be Ethical – let’s Ditch them Entirely!
We are all ‘umble, very ‘umble indeed.
If psychological tests are to be used to judge whether jobseekers have a psychological resistance to work, they must be administered by experienced users of psychometrics and proper feedback must be provided.
That was the reaction of the British Psychological Society to the news that the government is considering such a move.
Dr Ian Bushnell CPsychol from the University of Glasgow, the chair of the Society’s Division Division of Occupational Psychology, said:
“Psychometrics can be a valuable source of information for guiding people in their career search and decisions; the longer term unemployed could find the insights provided by a professionally conducted psychometric assessment very helpful in determining their choices about jobs.
“It is critical, however, that all assessments are conducted by experienced users of psychometrics – ideally under the supervision of a chartered psychologist. The success of a psychometric assessment of jobseekers will depend on sensitive, constructive and meaningful feedback about the results.”
Esther McVey, a minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, announced the scheme last week.
Under it, interviewers will assess jobseekers’ attitudes, behavioural norms and levels of self-belief by asking them to describe what they regard as the “risks of going to work”, the “value of work” and how confident they are of finding a job.
This will be combined with a profile on their background, looking at whether they come from a troubled family, whether their spouse will help them in looking for a job and when they last worked.
The scheme is currently being piloted in three job centres. If it proves successful, it will receive a voluntary trial involving 27,000 jobseekers in 27 cities to assess whether the tests can accurately predict whether someone will take a job.
The British Psychological Society’s Psychological Testing Centre provides information and services relating to standards in tests and testing for test takers, test users, test developers and members of the public.
Our Scientific and Psychometric Research Department has been looking into this and found the following (2013),
Jobseekers’ psychometric test ‘is a failure’ (Guardian. May 2013)
US institute that devised questionnaire tells ‘nudge’ unit to stop using it as it failed to be scientifically validated.
An American psychology organisation has told a UK government agency to stop using a personality test on jobseekers because it is a failure.
The Behavioural Insight team, or “nudge” unit, which was created by David Cameron in 2010 to help people “make better choices”, has been accused by the Ohio-based VIA Institute on Character of bad practice after civil servants used VIA’s personality tests in pilot experiments in Essex despite being refused permission to do so.
More through link above.
We also found this….
Since I revealed in April that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and its Jobcentre Plus ‘subsidiary’ were forcing jobseekers, under the threat of sanction, to take a fake psychometric test on behalf of Downing Street’s ‘nudge unit’, the story has run on and on. The DWP denied that anyone had been forced to take the test and claimed that no one had risked losing benefits for non-compliance – and thenadmitted, in a bizarre Freedom of Information (FOI) response that it had done exactly that.
Meanwhile, the head of the nudge unit, David Halpern, had written a letter (jointly with creator of the ‘test’ and US psychological torture guru Martin Seligman) to the Guardian repeating the denial – which the FOI then showed to have been completely untrue. The situation caused considerable uproar among psychologists, particularly within the British Psychological Society‘s ‘Division of Occupational Psychologists‘ (BPS; DOP), some of whose comments in a Linkedin discussion forum you can seehere.
I can now reveal (together with the Guardian) that the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is investigating David Carew, the DWP’s Chief Psychologist, over the use of a ‘test’ which evidently lacks proper development and validation, and which consisted of simply extracting 48 questions from the hundreds contained in a properly-validated test created by a US organisation, the VIA.
The fact that the full test was apparently properly validated does not mean that any question, or subset of questions, is therefore validated as well – and approving a non-validated ‘test’ for use on unwilling subjects could represent a serious breach of professional ethics. The BPS said it was taking the complaints seriously and that the DWP had failed to provide full answers to its detailed questions about the test’s scientific rigour or the qualifications behind those implementing and devising the survey, saying:
We approached the DWP to try to discover how the Behavioural Insights Unit drew up its test. We have received a reply, but without our questions being fully answered.
The DOP, which represents around 4,000 BPS members, issued a separate statement saying it was “very concerned” by way in which the test had reportedly been applied and the “technical credentials of the instrument”. They said that they had “been unable to establish” from their appeals to the DWP…
More through link above.
Despite these reports the DWP hasn’t give up!
Talk about reinforced misbehaviour……