Politicians should be psychometrically tested

It would be advantageous for everyone if our politicians took psychometric tests and shared the results with the electorate. A robust psychometric test shows who you really are. If the ‘true you’ is worthy and appropriate, what’s to fear?

Subjectivity and misinformation would dissipate; voters would feel better informed – perhaps even more positively engaged; and politicians would feel more confident to present themselves as they really are. At present, we struggle to really ‘know’ our politicians and, despite the amount of air-time they receive, the media landscape doesn’t really help.

Ordinarily, psychometric tests purely focus on the aspects of a personality that are relevant to performance in a role. In this capacity, a psychometric test could really focus on how effective a politician would be in terms of their performance and resist more trivial and superfluous aspects of their personality, which has somehow become the norm for politicians. We feel the need to ‘approve’ of all kinds of aspects of their lives, from their morals and ethics to what they wear, how they look or even how they even how they eat a bacon sandwich. This makes them more like ‘celebrities’, where their success is based on a broader appeal than their potential performance in a role, but they rarely have the resources or even the appetite to manage themselves as such.

This sense of approval/disproval allows our own lives to become more comparable and proximate to theirs. That’s a good thing if it means we can better relate to our politicians, but it makes the management and mastery of a politician’s personal brand a complex process. Indeed, if the brand is managed too well there is no reward; it’s quickly interpreted as spin and rejected.

Politicians’ agendas are marginalised and massaged to fit into short sound-bites to answer complex societal issues. They need to ‘mirror’ our sense of media-friendly personas and beware anyone who steps outside of our perspective of norms (poor Jeremy). And the general cynicism of voters seeing politicians as ‘all being the same’ is hardly helped by the imposition of ‘party-lines’ that reinforce a sense of same-ness to protect party ideologies that don’t seem to have kept pace or relevance with society at large.

And then there’s just the subject matter. No-one can deny its importance, but it often feels remote and inaccessible for people to navigate as it competes with so many other more emotionally-rewarding indulgences for an increasingly short-term attention span.

So, something evidently needs to change if the election process is to have any real sense of engagement or value. Turn-outs risk becoming increasingly low and consequently undemocratic, despite the pivotal scenarios we face. Fresh thinking should be encouraged. The issues are evident, the current system doesn’t allow us to know our politicians with certainty and psychometric tests would undoubtedly help.

It isn’t really that controversial or disruptive. It would create a better result for everyone.

It’s interesting that there’s still scepticism around psychometric testing, even though a solid test could create a better picture of you than your wife or husband could ever provide. In the context of candidate assessments, it’s certainly way better than any interview process which can only skim a context that is normally fundamentally transactional, predictable and so overly rehearsed that it becomes a performance (i.e. interviewer has a vacancy that needs filling and applicant needs a job, so let the trading process begin).

It seems ironic and almost paradoxical that we give science permission to have such a diverse and leading role in our lives, yet as people we still seem reluctant to acknowledge that the authentic application of science within psychometric tests can comfortably define our intellect, personalities, motivations and behaviours. Our vanity stokes our feelings of individuality, but in truth we have more commonality than difference.

We may feel that we appear as a series of contradictions and eccentricities, but underneath this we possess values and principles that provide us with internal guidance systems as we approach challenges and this is accessible in testing. We may feel this challenges our sense of individuality but if the test is robust enough to embrace and understands these variables, it would be of real benefit to both politicians as they seek to become more accessible and voters as they seek to understand ‘who’ they are really voting for.

A good psychometric test will assess what you value, what motivates you and how you will behave in a series of prescribed contexts. If used correctly, assessments could then be used to predict an outcome, like what an individual is likely to do in certain situations, or how well they will perform in a role.

We’ve applied these to the business context for many years. At The Chemistry Group, we define, through our What Great Looks Like tool, the Intellect, Values, Motivations, Behaviours and Experience that relate to superior performance in each of our client businesses, and then provide the tools to hire people against What Great Looks Like so they can accurately predict which candidates will become their best performers.

Such tests allow the ‘true you’ to emerge. This must be of assistance, not hindrance, to any politician that wants to get votes for who they really are and what they stand for, whilst providing voters with a tangible sense of how their politicians would respond in a variety of scenarios and what they really think about topical issues. We’d be able to really understand:

    – What does Theresa May really think about immigration?
    – Is she for a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit?
    – Under what circumstances, if any, would Jeremy Corbyn press the nuclear button?
    – Does Tim Farron (you know, the Lib Dem leader) really think gay sex is a sin?

A psychometric test would show politicians as they really are, not the ideology they’re being filtered through or the media persona they’re crafting. It would be fascinating to know and, undoubtedly, seeing beneath the stock answers of their media personas would have a significant effect on voters and guide better decision-making.

Sharing these results could even help on a global scale. Predictive modelling could help de-escalate the type of tensions we’re seeing around Syria, North Korea and the rekindling of the Cold War as they’d be more informed sense of the likelihood of the potential outcomes given the insight we’d have into the personalities involved.

It would even help politicians understand if politics was their true vocation or whether they’d rather be the Editor of the Evening Standard.

Commercial organisations have embraced the insights of psychometric testing for some time. Rolling this out into the political landscape may feel instinctively controversial, but would actually provide real benefits. We remain on hand until June 8 for any candidates that would like to step forward and show their prospective voters who they really are.

May, 19, 2017

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