[IPAC-List] Spilberg, Shelley at POST

Richard Joines mpscorp at value.net
Wed Jul 8 15:27:10 EDT 2015


Thanks for the clarification.  I'm not really involved with those kinds of instruments, but I am curious what people think about this topic.

I remember a time back in the 1980's when I scored some MMPI tests along with a clinical psychologist friend.  This was the MMPI that had, as I recall, about 556 items.  I'm pretty sure there were 60 items that were keyed for schizophrenia.  I was surprised to see that the norms considered about six positive responses to be in the normal range on the schizophrenia scale, whereas all of the items seemed very obvious in assessing bizarre or delusional thinking.  I don't recall seeing separate norms for men and women.  I always thought that I wouldn't want to hire anyone who answered six of these questions in a positive direction!

Assuming for the sake of discussion that men scored substantially higher as a group on this scale, I would find it hard to believe that more schizophrenic thinking on the job would be fine for men but not women police officers.  That would be the possible outcome of gender-based norming, which I would oppose.

Given that we need one norm group, I would be inclined to use an equal number of men and women to minimize such errors.  Obviously, if I formed a norm group with 80% men and 20% women because that appeared to represent the current candidate pool, the mean score for schizophrenia would be almost as high as the male mean, which I see as problematic and disadvantageous for women.  Also, candidate populations can easily change over a few years and it would be necessary to constantly adjust your standards as these changes occurred.  That doesn't make sense to me.  Thus, I would be in favor of forming a norm group with an equal number of men and women.

Ultimately, we're actually dealing with the question of differential validity, but I don't see this type of research ever being completed in a technically sound way with a sufficiently large sample.  And what would this research be attempting to prove if we were investigating the schizophrenia scale in the example given above where men score higher than women in delusional thinking?  That greater delusional thinking among male candidates is acceptable because men, as a group, are crazier than women?   That seems illogical to me.  I can't think of a theoretical basis for arguing that more delusional thinking is all right in one group but not the other.

Richard Joines
Management & Personnel Systems, Inc.

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