Brain Imaging & the Future of Psychometric Testing

Brain Imaging & the Future of Psychometric Testing

Almost two years ago, our research partner company (TTI Success Insights) began conducting brain research using EEG technology (which measures electrical activity in the brain) and quickly began learning that our brains have opinions on all nouns and adjectives. These opinions can be positive, negative or both.

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Example of a negative response (strong red colouration).

When a single word is displayed (e.g. “Aggression”), the 16 electrodes connected to a participant's scalp collects data from the individual’s subconscious in a fraction of a second. There’s no time for the conscious mind to deliberate about the meaning and feelings behind each word. The EEG measures gut reactions — how you really feel deep down inside, even if you are trying to hide something.

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For example, a female athlete who was well known in the sporting world was participating in one of the EEG research projects and showed unusually negative reactions to the words connected to body weight. When the researchers began probing about this extremely negative response, the woman revealed she had suffered from anorexia earlier in her life. Only then did it become clear to the researchers why they were getting the results they were. The woman's desire to move away from obesity had powerfully motivated her behaviour over the course of her life and was still a dominant, driving force. Of course, it's not unusual for people to be opposed to certain ideas or concepts, but to actually see the intensity of the reaction in the brain is something altogether different and potentially very useful.

This type of brain research is currently being used to refine and improve the TTI suite of psychometric assessments. The EEG technology helps to evaluate people’s responses to different words in the current questionnaires and improve the validity to the highest levels ever recorded.

These are the very early days of incorporating brain imaging into psychometric testing. Still, it is extremely exciting. The day may come when consciously filling out an assessment becomes a thing of the past, as new technology will allow us to get up close and personal with the inner workings of your brain.

For more detail, here's a video with Dr. Ron Bonnstetter, VP of Research at TTI Success Insights, talking about the example of the female athlete:

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