Last week the Singapore-based Straits Times published an article which reported a study carried out at NUS linking testosterone to advantages in leadership. PsyAsia’s Dr. Graham Tyler was asked to comment on the reasearch and he was asked if biological testing might replace psychometric testing in the future! A copy of the article can be downloaded here:
There are a number of limitations in the above thinking. Not least the fact that the study was carried out on students – hardly real-world organisational leaders! Also, given that this was a correlational analysis it cannot be inferred that testosterone increases leadership skills. It might actually be the opposite. Finding oneself in leadership scenarios may cause the body to produce more testosterone!
Biological testing is certainly not about to replace psychometric tests in Singapore or anywhere else. Not only is the area contentious it would also bring legal issues into play. We know already that biology plays a role in many aspects of who we are from personality traits to ability and more. However, we also know that the environment, access to resources and simply luck (ie where we find ourselves, who our teachers/mentors are) also play a huge part. Psychometric tests should never be used on their own to inform decision-making processes and neither should any other form of assessment – biological testing, interviews and so forth. However, the use of highly valid tools used in conjunction with each other is a good thing.
Note: In the article, there is a mention that aptitude tests can predict between 9-36% of performance. This is incorrect. The journalist asked about personality tests and was told that traditional personality tests can predict about 9-36% of performance. Aptitude tests are able to predict more than this and more modern personality assessments such as Identity or the Saville Consulting Wave do an even better job than traditonal personality tests!