DNA & Psychometrics

Gaining an understanding of other people is very important to us.  Will they be friends and foes?  Offer us opportunities or present us with threats?

Learning about others also helps us understand ourselves better.

People who are warm, friendly, kind, cooperative, intelligent and have a good sense of humour tend to be more popular than those who are cold, hostile, intransigent, stupid and humourless.

Many take the view they don't need a psychometric to tell one from the other.

Some distrust psychometrics because people might answer the questions on which they are based differently on different days, and so the profiles they create cannot be considered reliable.

Some even take the trouble to dig deeper and find that some psychometrics are little better grounded in science than those novelty websites offering to profile people on the basis of which biscuit or animal they prefer.

In the world serious academic psychologists inhabit two types of psychometrics dominate: those dealing with personality and personal values.

Of these, personality tests based on what is known as the Big Five and values tests featuring the Schwartz system of values dominate.

Personality is defined as how we appear to others: how we behave. It is known that people's personalities change dependent on the environment in which they find themselves. For example, children have one personality at home and another with their friends. It is therefore subjective. Because we tend to seek out environments in which we feel most comfortable, the personality that develops with friends is perhaps more likely to become the one most people would recognise.

Personal values are constant. They are the standards by which we judge everything and everyone. To date they have mainly been used in broad socio-political and economic research, but DNA and the research behind it has enabled us to use Schwartz's system of values in many more powerful, personal and precise ways.

The way we behave and the personality we seem to have are products of the reaction between our personal values and our environment.

Given our judgement of others is dependent on our personal values, we cannot rely on our assessment of others being either objective or attuned to our best interests. We may think someone to be warm, friendly, kind, cooperative and intelligent only to find their apparent virtues are devices being used to deceive us.

This is why the insights DNA provides about ourselves, our biases, and those of others are so valuable.