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Simulation Models for Psychometric Theories NSF

Helm, Carl E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research, Computer Simulation, Occupational Tests, Psychological Characteristics, Psychometrics, Test Theory


This project is directed to the exploration of the procedures used by psychologists in evaluating a person's performance on a battery of psychological tests. A central strategy in the research is to develop computer programs based on interviews with psychologists, which will produce written evaluations of test profiles comparable to those produced by psychologists for the same profiles. The intention is to simulate the behavior of the clinical psychologist by incorporating theoretical ideas and his practical experiences, insofar as one is able to express them, into a computer program. It is not the intention to simulate the behavior of the persons taking the tests. The source of data for the analysis was the personnel files of a large organization which collected extensive data from its job applicants, including a comprehensive biographical inventory, several aptitude and ability measures, a personality test providing seven different temperament sales, a work attitudes inventory which provides 14 different personality and attitude measures, an interest inventory, and a written essay examination. A FORTRAN II computer program, PROTAN II (for profile translator), consisting of some 58 routines, was developed from this information. This paper describes the language system—the "sentence generating operators" and the rules and combinations of rules for determining when and how sentences are printed for an applicant and the "conditional branching" used in some routines. Samples show paragraphs produced using this program together with psychologist-produced paragraphs for the same data. Approximately two seconds of machine time are required to process each profile and develop a paragraph based on 100 operators. Some points of possible confusion regarding the validity of some future uses of the program are also addressed here. Project on "Mathematical Techniques in Psychology."

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