Our methods

Test psychometrics

Introduction Developing psychometric instruments requires thorough knowledge and experience. We have been working with a group of experienced (test) psychologists from the start, back in 2005. This ensures the quality of our test development.

As a consultant, trainer or coach this knowledge is highly relevant for using the Graves-instruments in a responsible way. Most relevant is having base knowledge about the two common measurement methods in psychometrics:

  • Ipsative
  • Absolute

The ipsative measurement method is the most commonly used in the field of Graves instruments. It is easy to use, free from judgment and as a result, very well-suited to individual and team development. For that reason it is used for our mainstream instruments Individual and Team drivesDNA™.

It is also used by providers such as Spiral Dynamics™, Management Drives™, Profile Dynamics™ and others. It makes their instruments fully compatible and interchangeable with each other.

In addition Spiral Drives also develops instruments based on the absolute measurement method, because of it inherent qualities. This can be found in the Collective drivesDNA™ and our specialization instruments POP and TOP.

In order to work responsibly with instruments of any kind, thorough understanding of its psychometric characteristics is of big importance. Unfortunately we see a lot of misinterpretation in the field of Graves-tests, which drives us to share our knowledge openly. Below we explain both methods to you in more detail.

Ipsative measurement method In this method you are asked to distribute a fixed number of points over a set number of response options. With the Graves tests this usually means distributing fifteen points over seven answer options.

The points are awarded to the most-preferred answer, the rest receive less or no points. This inherently means the results of such a test show the most-preferred drive in contrast to all the others. That’s it, nothing less, nothing more.

The results of an ipsative Graves test show someone’s relative preferences. “Ipse” is the Latin word for “self”. This is measured and shown as the division of preferences, the total being 100% within one person. This is easy to understand, free of judgment and a very valuable starting point for a development process.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON TEAMSThe ipsative test shows the percentage distribution of drives preference within one single person. This cannot just being added up with the aim of providing a deeper team insight. Doing so only shows the average team scores, again as a percentage distribution. Nothing more, nothing less. It reveils no deeper information about culture, energy or other underlying team dynamics. This is a big common misunderstanding.

Absolute measurement method With the absolute measurement method, all the drives are measured separately from one another. This means no compulsory distributing 15 points between 7 drives. All questions are now separate and are answered separately using a 5-point Likert scale:

  • completely disagree
  • disagree
  • neither agree nor disagree
  • agree
  • completely agree

As each drive is measured in a standalone way, the results show a score of each individual drive. Each drives can score maximum or minimum on the scale, whatever the other scores are.

As a result, this measurement method offers more options for statistical research and for this reason is often used in classic psychological tests. The results show an absolute score for each drive, plotted against a representative norm group. This is why we speak of an absolute measurement method. Results of this measurement method have a more quantitative value, related to an external reference group (norm) and can be therefor also be used to compare scores between participants.

Application in Spiral Drives™ Our Individual and Team drivesDNA™ make use of the ipsative measurement method. It is easy to work with, free from judgment and very effective for proces oriented development. Our Team drivesDNA™ offers a special diversity graph that provides you direct and very concrete access to the underlying team dynamics.

Culture and energy reside on the deepest undercurrent level within teams and organizations. At this level we developed the Collective drivesDNA™ using the absolute measurement method. As a result it offers a more quantitative insight making it more suitable for crystal clear analysis and assessment purposes.

Our speciality instruments (Personal and Team Orientation Perspective) even go one step further and make full use of the absolute test method, including norm groups.