Our Approach to Measurement

How We Measure Personal Intelligence

In the case of personal intelligence–or of any intelligence–a mental ability is present when a person exhibits the consistent ability to solve mental problems of a given type. Accordingly, best practices in intelligence assessment require directly measuring a person’s ability to solve problems. In practice, test-takers are asked questions, their answers to the questions are recorded, and then those answers are compared to an accepted standard of correctness to evaluate how well the test-taker has done. This is the gold standard of ability measurement.

In assessing personal intelligence, this means coming up with questions in the domains of problem solving specified by the theory:

  • identifying information about personality
  • forming models of personality
  • guiding choices using personality-relevant information
  • systematizing goals and plans

To construct questions in each area, we carefully analyze the skills necessary to carry out the reasoning based on our own research and the research of others and then set out to create a test.

In our In our lab, we have created an ability test named the Test of Personal Intelligence (TOPI). In one sense, the TOPI is a large set of test items that measures problem solving in each of the above four areas.

After the questions on the TOPI are composed, correct answers are identified in reference to what we know about personality–according to the best research on the topic to date.

From those test items, we form specific scales for a given purpose. A long form, the TOPI 1.2 Rf, is most useful for individual assessment. A short form, the TOPI MINI-12, is useful for finding relationships between personal intelligence and other variables. A demonstration test, the TOPI-DEMO is helpful for teaching how the test works.