Modern Psychometrics : The Science of Psychological Assessment book cover
4th Edition

Modern Psychometrics
The Science of Psychological Assessment

ISBN 9781315637686
Published December 23, 2020 by Routledge
194 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This popular text introduces the reader to all aspects of psychometric assessment, including its history, the construction and administration of traditional tests, and the latest techniques for psychometric assessment online.

Rust, Kosinski, and Stillwell begin with a comprehensive introduction to the increased sophistication in psychometric methods and regulation that took place during the 20th century, including the many benefits to governments, businesses, and customers. In this new edition, the authors explore the increasing influence of the internet, wherein everything we do on the internet is available for psychometric analysis, often by AI systems operating at scale and in real time. The intended and unintended consequences of this paradigm shift are examined in detail, and key controversies, such as privacy and the psychographic microtargeting of online messages, are addressed. Furthermore, this new edition includes brand-new chapters on item response theory, computer adaptive testing, and the psychometric analysis of the digital traces we all leave online.

Modern Psychometrics combines an up-to-date scientific approach with full consideration of the political and ethical issues involved in the implementation of psychometric testing in today’s society. It will be invaluable to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as practitioners who are seeking an introduction to modern psychometric methods.

Table of Contents


1. The history and evolution of psychometric testing


What is psychometrics?

Psychometrics in the 21st century

History of assessment

      Chinese origins

      The ability to learn

      The nineteenth century

Beginnings of psychometrics as a science

      Intelligence testing

      Eugenics and the dark decades

Psychometric testing of ability

      The dark ages come to an end

      An abundance of abilities

Tests of other psychological constructs










2. Constructing your own psychometric questionnaire

The purpose of the questionnaire

Making a blueprint

Writing items

      Alternate-choice items

      Multiple-choice items

      Rating-scale items

      All questionnaires

      Knowledge-based questionnaires

      Person-based questionnaires

Designing the questionnaire

Piloting the questionnaire

Item analysis




Obtaining the reliability

      Cronbach’s alpha

      Split-half reliability

Assessing validity

      Face validity

      Content validity


3. The Psychometric principles


      Test-retest reliability

      Parallel-forms reliability

      Split-half reliability

      Interrater reliability

      Internal consistency

      The standard error of measurement (SEM)

      Comparing test reliabilities

      Restriction of range


      Face validity

      Content validity

      Predictive validity

      Concurrent validity

      Construct validity

      Differential validity


      Norm referencing

      Criterion referencing


      Differential item functioning

      Measurement invariance

      Adverse impact


4. Psychometric measurement

True-score theory

Identification of latent traits with factor analysis

      Spearman’s two-factor theory

      Vector algebra and factor rotation

      Moving into more dimensions

      Multidimensional scaling

Application of factor analysis to test construction


      Identifying the number of factors to extract using the Kaiser criterion

      Identifying the number of factors to extract using the Cattell scree test

      Other techniques for identifying the number of factors to extract

      Factor rotation

      Rotation to simple structure

      Orthogonal rotation

      Oblique rotation

Limitations of the classical factor-analystic approach

Criticisms of psychometric measurement theory

      The Platonic true score

      Psychological vs. physical true scores

      Functional assessment and competency testing

      Machine learning and the black box


5. Item response theory and computer adaptive testing


Item banks

      The Rasch model

      Assessment of educational standards

      The Birnbaum model

The evolution of modern psychometrics

      Computer adaptive testing

      Item equating

      Polytomous IRT

An intuitive graphical description of item tesponse theory

      Limitations of classical test theory

A graphical Introduction to item response theory

      The logistic curve

      3PL-model: difficulty parameter

      3PL model: discrimination parameter

      3PL model: guessing parameter

      The Fisher information function

      The test information function and its relationship to the standard error of measurement

      How to score an IRT test

Principles of computer adaptive testing

Summary of item response theory

Confirmatory factor analysis

6. Personality theory

Theories of personality

      Psychoanalytic theory

      Humanistic theory

      Social learning theory

      Behavioral genetics

      Type and trait theories

      Different approaches to personality assessment

      Self-report techniques and personality profiles

      Reports by others

      Online digital footprints

      Situational assessments

      Projective measures

      Observations of behavior

      Task performance methods

      Polygraph methods

      Repertory grids

Sources and management of bias

      Self-report techniques and personality profiles

      Reports by others

      Online digital footprints

      Situational assessments

      Projective measures

      Observations of behavior

      Task performance methods

      Polygraph methods

      Repertory grids

Informal methods of personality assessment

State versus trait measures

Ipsative scaling

Spurious validity and the Barnum Effect


7. Personality assessment in the workplace

Prediction of successful employment outcomes

      Validation of personality questionnaires previously used in employment

      Historical antecedents to the five-factor model

      Stability of the five-factor model

      Cross-cultural aspects of the five-factor model

      Scale independence and the role of facets

      Challenges to scale construction for the five-factor model

      Impression management


      Response bias and factor structure

      Development of the five OBPI personality scales

Assessing counterproductive behavior at work

      The impact of behaviorism

      Prepsychological theories of integrity

      Modern integrity testing

      Psychiatry and the medical model

      The dysfunctional tendencies

      The dark triad

      Assessing integrity at work

      The OBPI integrity scales


8. Employing digital footprints in psychometrics


Types of digital footprint

      Usage logs

      Language data

      Mobile sensors

      Images and audiovisual data

Typical applications of digital footprints in psychometrics

      Replacing and complimenting traditional measures

      New contexts and new constructs

      Predicting future behavior

      Studying human behavior

      Supporting the development of traditional measures

Advantages and challenges of employing digital footprints in psychometrics

      High ecological validity

      Greater detail and longitude

      Less control over the assessment environment

      Greater speed and unobtrusiveness

      Less privacy and control

      No anonymity


      Enrichment of existing constructs

      Developing digital-footprint-based psychometric measures
      Collecting digital footprints

      How much data is needed?

Preparing digital footprints for analysis

      Respondent-footprint matrix

      Data sparsity

Reducing the dimensionality of the respondent-footprint matrix

      Singular value decomposition

      Latent Dirichlet allocation

Building prediction models

9. Psychometrics in the era of the intelligent machine

History of computerization in psychometrics

      Computerized statistics

      Computerized item banks

      Computerized item generation

      Automated advice and report systems

The evolution of AI in psychometrics

      Expert systems

      Neural networks (machine learning)

      Parallel processing

      Predicting with statistics and machine learning


Psychometrics in cyberspace

      What and where is cyberspace?

      The medium is the message

Moral development in AI

      Kohlberg’s theory of moral development

      Do machines have morals?

      The laws of robotics

      Artificial general intelligence


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John Rust is the founder of The Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK. He is a Senior Member of Darwin College, UK, and an Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge, UK.

Michal Kosinski is an associate professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, USA.

David Stillwell is the academic director of the Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK. He is also a reader in computational social science at the Cambridge Judge Business School, UK.


"There is a robust science for predicting and explaining what people do in any area of life, and this remarkable book, by three leading scholars, will forever change the way you think about human behavior: a true masterpiece!" – Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Columbia University, USA, and University College, UK

"Measurement is the foundation of all science, and psychology is no exception. So, with its authoritative, updated, and comprehensive coverage of psychometrics, this volume is set to become the go-to guide for any serious psychological scientist." Sam Gosling, University of Texas, USA

"The science of psychometrics is already changing our lives. For better or worse, it will shape our digital futures. This welcome new edition to the classic introduction to the field could hardly be more timely. "Huw Price, University of Cambridge, UK