Values in Psychometrics

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When it originated in the late 19th century, psychometrics was a field with both a scientific and a social mission: psychometrics provided new methods for research into individual differences, and at the same time, these psychometric instruments were considered a means to create a new social order. In contrast, contemporary psychometrics - due to its highly technical nature and its limited involvement in substantive psychological research - has created the impression of being a value-free discipline. In this article, we develop a contrasting characterization of contemporary psychometrics as a value-laden discipline. We expose four such values: that individual differences are quantitative (rather than qualitative), that measurement should be objective in a specific sense, that test items should be fair, and that utility of a model is more important than its truth. Our goal is not to criticize psychometrics for employing these values, but rather to bring them into the open and to show that these values are not inevitable and are in need of systematic evaluation.
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Archival date: 2021-05-07
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