For the first time, the number of people in flight exceeded 60 million in 2015, according to the UN: s Refugee Organization UNHCR. According to The Economist, there are now more refugees in the world than during World War II. It’s not just to Europe they are flying. In Thailand, refugees come from Cambodia and Burma, in Colombia they come from Ecuador, in the Dominican Republic they come from Haiti, in Lebanon from the Syrian war, etc.
The world is experiencing the greatest increase in refugees ever. According to the UNHCR, an average of 42,500 people leave their homes every day as a result of war, conflict or human rights violations. Just to Europe, 2.6 million have submitted an asylum application, of which almost one million have tried to cross the Mediterranean to seek asylum in Europe.
How should we do in Europe to determine who will receive asylum? One reason has been if you are gay and flying from countries where homosexuality is prohibited and you are at risk of death penalty. According to the European Court of Justice, we must receive these refugees. At the same time, it is legally difficult to prove that a refugee is actually homosexual. Some countries, including Hungary, have therefore used a personality test to determine the refugee’s homosexual orientation. Other migration authorities, for example in the Czech Republic, have forced men who claim to be gay to watch heterosexual porn movies to see if they became sexually excited.
Another way to test refugees has been the Rorschach test – where they can look at “ink plums” and tell a ”psychologist expert” what they think they see in them – a popular parlour game developed in the late 1800s among the upper classes in central Europe. Based on this, you try to look for signs of homosexuality in the way to answer. This type of ”projective test” is still used, particular in southern Europe, when companies recruit. With the help of experts, one tries to capture the subconscious personality of the individual based on how they associate with the images. These can be both scary, erotic, and provocative. There are no ”right” or ”wrong” answers, it is free to imagine what the pictures imagine.
It is easy to ridicule this. But there is still a deep ignorance of what psychological tests really are, and an overconfidence belief in what they can say about another person. The impression is that there is a negative correlation between trust in an individual test result and competence; the more ignorant a user is, the greater confidence in a test result. An objective personality test is a standard questionnaire, trying to capture the individual’s character traits – if he or she answers honestly. Most personality tests on the market do not even try to access this source of error, which otherwise benefits those who lie the most or try to override the test.
At the same time, good tests are better as a forecast instruments than job interview and reference. As humans, we are actually quite bad at judging other people, we often seek information confirming our first impressions. Taking references often develop into a kind of game where the candidate refers to people who he or she know will be talking well about the person in question.
That’s when good tests are valuable. Good tests should highlight what is unexpected, what was not discovered during the interview and which gives you some added value in assessing a candidate. At the same time, good tests should be based on modern research and on ”common” people, not on students where the testresult does not mean anything for him or her. Nevertheless, old tests are still often used without scientific documentation and forecast value. As if there was no research at all in the last 20-30 years.
Is it really not time to take the next step in the development of knowledge about human performance? For over 10 years Psykometrika has developed our test battery based on modern research. Every year we look at our own studies to improve – and to help our customers be more profitable.
Svenska Dagbladet, 2018, January, 26th.
UNHCR Mid-Year Trends 2015.
UNHCR Global Trends 2014.
The Economist, 2018, february 17th.