The psychological impact of psychometric assessment: The influence of locus of control and feedback

Sewell, Peter John (2009) The psychological impact of psychometric assessment: The influence of locus of control and feedback. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Psychometric testing is widely used in the selection of employees. Many people also take psychometric tests in consultation with careers advisers for personal development purposes. This research examines the short-term negative reactions to the test and feedback process in terms of changes in Positive and Negative Affect and 'State' Self-Esteem. It has been suggested that in addition to the common sense assumption that individuals who perform badly on a test might be more inclined to react negatively to feedback, reactions might also be influenced by personality factors including Locus of Control and levels of Global Self-Esteem. In addition, there has been debate about the impact of feedback on the reactions of test takers to the test process. The results from a small scale pencil and paper based investigation are reported n56 and a much larger on-line investigation nr459. In both studies there were three levels of feedback: none, basic and detailed. Participants were identified as either having 'Internal' or 'External' Locus of Control and in the large study as 'Successful' or 'Failure' performers.
Results from the small, initial study were inconclusive, but there was evidence in the main study that participants with an 'Internal' Locus of Control experienced more negative psychological effects than those with an 'External' Locus of Control. Specifically, the Internal Locus of Control group showed statistically a greater decline in State-Self-Esteem following the test
and/or test and feedback process than their External counterparts. The level of detail in the feedback provided did not significantly affect the extent of any negative or positive psychological reactions, but Global Self-Esteem was confirmed as the factor which accounts for the largest portion of the variance in reactions. The implications for the use of psychometric
testing in professional settings are discussed.

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