An interview with Martin Lucas, speaker at CEW by Phil Lewis
Is it possible to measure how the mind works? That is the essential question posed by psychometric tests, which have become ubiquitous in recruitment and organizational development.
For sceptics, the originators of such tests create systems that keep score using measurement frameworks that they have also invented. This can create the impression of a design ethos that is rather self-serving. Then there is the issue that psychometric tests focus on individuals—but often fail to predict how those individuals will function in a complex system. You might be classed as, say, a “fieldmarshal” (ENTJ) under Myers-Briggs—but what does that mean in an organizational culture that has an endemic problem with authority?
Mathematical psychology—an approach to psychological research that has been around since the early 19th century—attempts to resolve questions like this by yoking together psychology, science, mathematics and behavioural economics. In doing so, it seeks to create predictive models that are both objectively accurate and replicable across organizational systems. As counterintuitive as it might sound, a discipline as dry as mathematics might hold part of the key to how we can all be more innovative, happy and human at work.
Martin Lucas is an expert in mathematical psychology whose work has informed the business strategies of industry-leading companies in fashion (Diesel), travel (Cruise 1st) and beauty (L’Oreal).
There are five related research areas in mathematical psychology: learning and memory, perception and psychophysics, choice and decision making, language and thinking, and measurement and scaling.
Together they help build a complete picture of how the individual and collective mind functions, and how people are likely to behave in any given situation.