[SkepTech 2013] Stephanie Zvan – The Use and Abuse of Psychometrics

Talk by Stephanie Zvan on how society misuses the science of psychometry in the medical industry.


  • Tests for diagnostics should give consistent results time and time again and should not vary depending on the mood of the subject. E.g. some tests produce anxiety in the subject on first examination but anxiety levels drops on subsequent examinations so this can skew results greatly.
  • When we think of depression we think of sadness, not moving a lot, sleepiness. Which is true for women but for men depression can look like anger. So the test needs to be sensitive to these differences.
  • Misdiagnosis due to inadequate test can lead to a lifetime of consequential effects on patient. For many patients early intervention is crucial.

Biases in the test

  • Tests that rely on attention, if you have a low attention span it can affect your diagnosis
  • Tests that rely on memory, if you have poor short term memory it can affect your dignosis
  • tests that rely on time limits, may affect diagnosis if you have anxiety.


  • Researchers increasingly more skeptical of their tools, leading to improvements in tool design. Communities are more aware of limitations of the tools and therefore more proactive in demanding change.





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