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The Psychometrics Centre

Cambridge Judge Business School

In March 2016 The Psychometrics Centre completed its move into the Cambridge Judge Business School. The discussion had been going on behind the scenes for over a year, inspired by the changes in psychological and educational assessment practices brought about by the migration of human assessment to the online environment. The move also marks a recognition that modern psychometrics is a core part of computational behavioural science, one of the principle fields of endeavour in modern big data analytics. The advent of online digital footprint analysis in real time brings about a new world in which psychometric assessments can be made and appropriate responses activated in milliseconds with thousands of respondents simultaneously.

Professor John Rust, Director of the Centre, said "Few people realize the full extent of the impact of online communication on modern psychometrics. One hundred years ago, tests and examinations could only be carried out on paper, and scores represented the 'number of correct answers'. Fifty years ago, psychometricians were the first to apply machine learning techniques to real-world problems, using algorithms that enabled computers to estimate and then hone in on ability levels by choosing which items to administer. Today, the digital traces we leave behind allow machines to treat all of our online activity as a 'test.' Our Facebook Likes, the words we use in tweets and emails and the images we upload all provide 'items' from which the machine can learn who we are, what drives and motivates us and how we differ from each other. Psychometrics is at the forefront of developments in ambient intelligence and the Internet of Things, powering connected environments that are sensitive and responsive to our needs." 

These developments have huge implications for the future of many sectors, including marketing, recruitment, insurance, finance, education, health and the law. Many organisations are struggling to adapt to the world of Big Data, let alone show leadership, with massive increases in the quantity and quality of unstructured information and the emergence of more agile competitors threatening established practices. For the most part, the significant advances in research in ambient intelligence are not being made in universities, but rather in the major online corporations, such as Google or Facebook. The Psychometrics Centre will bridge this divide, bringing impact, public engagement and, most pointedly, 'development' back into the universities’ R&D agenda.

Vesselin Popov, Business Development Director, said “Big Data will only continue getting bigger, and the corresponding demand for smarter tools to interpret and implement its potential needs to be met. The Centre’s expertise in assessment, measurement, and prediction will enhance the Cambridge Judge Business School’s ability to push forward the boundaries of value creation for its global client network. We will build upon the Psychometrics Centre’s tradition of deep engagement and multidisciplinary collaboration to deliver world-leading support in some of the fascinating challenges of modern commerce. Accessing untapped potential in the workforce, developing psychologically-optimised services and interactions, and extracting real value from unstructured organisational data will be among the Centre’s core activities. We will continue to deliver cutting-edge research and teaching opportunities for academic staff by accessing data hitherto reserved for in-house data scientists, third-party dashboards or management consultancies.”

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