Measurement and quantification is ubiquitous in modern society. In early modernity, the scientific revolution provided a firm scientific basis for physical measures like temperature, pressure, and so on. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a similar revolution took place in psychology with the measurement of intelligence and personality. A crucial role was played by Psychometrics, initially defined as "The art of imposing measurement and number upon operations of the mind." Since 1936 the Psychometric Society has been at the forefront of the development of formal theories and methods to study the appropriateness and fidelity of psychological measurements. Because measurement in psychology is often done with tests and questionnaires, it is rather imprecise and subject to error. Consequently, statistics plays a major role in psychometrics. For example, members of the society have devoted much attention to the development of statistical methods for the appraisal of noisy measurements whose outcomes are considered indicators of attributes of interest that can not be directly observed.
Today, psychometrics covers virtually all statistical methods that are useful for the behavioral and social sciences including the handling of missing data, the combination of prior information with measured data, measurement obtained from special experiments, visualization of statistical outcomes, measurement that guarantees personal privacy, and so on. Psychometric models and methods now have a wide range of applicability in various disciplines such as education, industrial and organizational psychology, behavioral genetics, neuropsychology, clinical psychology, medicine, and even chemistry.
In the future we will have more personal data then ever before thanks to improved instrumentation, like brain scanning and genome sequencing, as well as the growth of the internet and computing power. Data collection now surpasses our ability to harvest and interpret its complexity. It is expected that whole economies will grow around the analysis of data, both commercial and scientific. The importance of innovations in measurement and statistics and ways to meaningfully summarize and visualize data is expected to grow along with it. The Psychometric Society is geared up to be a major player in providing these innovations.
Written by Henk Kelderman