[IPAC-List] Michael McDaniel's Reference to the so-called Validity-Diversity Dilemma

Dan Putka dputka at humrro.org
Fri Jun 3 09:04:34 EDT 2016

Hi Richard,

I think decisions regarding this matter will vary from organizations, and 
hinge on what they value and the resources they can offer to deal with 
potential inefficiencies in their selection process.

For example, let’s say an organization in question places high value on 
diversity.  The organization may be willing to sacrifice some level of 
criterion-related validity with their selection measure if it results in 
bringing a more diverse workforce in the door.  A critic may rightly argue 
that using a test with lower criterion-related validity would lower the 
expected mean performance of individuals hired.  While that would be true, 
the organization could potentially offset the loss of validity through 
more rigorous training and performance management (i.e., a post selection 
intervention designed to ensure a greater proportion of the workforce meet 
performance standards). Of course adding that rigor may require more 
investment on the part of the organization, which they may or may not see 
as worth it.

The other thing to consider here is the magnitude of the difference.  For 
example, using Mike’s quote as an example, if increasing the time limit of 
the test has only a small negative impact on validity, but makes a more 
sizable reduction in subgroup differences, then it would arguably be 
harder to justify not sacrificing validity in that case.  In that 
situation, one might construe the situation as the organization having a 
reasonable alternative to their assumed current approach (i.e., the 
reduced time limit) that has minimal impact on validity, but is better 
from a subgroup difference perspective. Of course, a challenge in practice 
is drawing the line between how much of a drop in validity is too much, 
and how much of a drop in subgroup differences is enough to warrant 
deviating from the “maximize validity” philosophy.  Though statistical 
inference can help here (e.g., non-sig. change in validity, sig. change in 
subgroup diffs), I think this is a judgment that will also vary from 
organization to organization. 

Personally, I think one of our key roles as scientist-practitioners in the 
selection arena is to help the organizations we work with understand the 
implications of potential decisions they make regarding their selection 
processes.  We can do our best to explain potential options and likely 
outcomes based on data, theory, literature, past precedent, experience, 
and offer a reasoned, logical opinion, but the final decision may often 
not rest in our hands. 


Dan J. Putka, Ph.D.
Principal Staff Scientist
Office: 703.706.5640
dputka at humrro.org | www.linkedin.com/in/dputka
66 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 700
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1578

From:   "Richard Joines" <mpscorp at value.net>
To:     "IPAC List" <ipac-list at ipacweb.org>
Date:   06/02/2016 08:15 PM
Subject:        [IPAC-List] Michael McDaniel's Reference to the so-called 
Validity-Diversity Dilemma
Sent by:        "IPAC-List" <ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org>

You make the statement that "if job-related reading speed has undesirable 
consequences such as group differences, one may wish to sacrifice merit 
hiring for diversity hiring and increase the time limit of the exam."
I guess the question for those who think I/O Psychology is a science is... 
how does one reach the decision to throw the science out and go another 
route?  If the result is lowering validity, I'm certainly not about to 
increase the time limit of any of my empirically validated tests.  There 
would be no scientific basis for doing that.
I would be interested in what people think about this and how they view 
their role and what limitations they think they should observe, but my 
view has always been to try to maximize validity while ensuring compliance 
with federal guidelines.  Since the 1978 Uniform Guidelines we've been 
compelled to look for alternative selection methods, the idea being that 
if we can find or develop a test that has the same or higher validity but 
lower adverse impact, we should do that.
However, the idea that we should sacrifice validity in order to increase 
diversity strikes me as going too far.  Who are we to make such decisions? 
 We're supposed to be scientists, not social engineers, yes?
Thoughts anyone?
Rich Joines
Mgt & Personnel Systems, Inc.
IPAC-List at ipacweb.org

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