, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 425-440,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 23 Sep 2006

The attack of the psychometricians


This paper analyzes the theoretical, pragmatic, and substantive factors that have hampered the integration between psychology and psychometrics. Theoretical factors include the operationalist mode of thinking which is common throughout psychology, the dominance of classical test theory, and the use of “construct validity” as a catch-all category for a range of challenging psychometric problems. Pragmatic factors include the lack of interest in mathematically precise thinking in psychology, inadequate representation of psychometric modeling in major statistics programs, and insufficient mathematical training in the psychological curriculum. Substantive factors relate to the absence of psychological theories that are sufficiently strong to motivate the structure of psychometric models. Following the identification of these problems, a number of promising recent developments are discussed, and suggestions are made to further the integration of psychology and psychometrics.

This research was sponsored by NWO Innovational Research grant no. 451-03-068. I would like to thank Don Mellenbergh and Conor Dolan for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Denny Borsboom, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Roetersstraat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.