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The Science Behind Aptitudes
How does the Latitude Aptitude Test find a match between my Aptitudes and Careers? The Latitude Aptitude Test (LAT) suggests careers based on the best fit between your aptitudes and the aptitudes important for that career. To determine which aptitudes are most important for each career, the test-makers partnered with experts in job performance and utilized the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration’s O*NET Career Database. They asked questions such as: What are the common tasks within each career path? What are the typical daily tasks in each career? What are characteristics of successful people in this career?
Combining several different sources of information, they translated the tasks and requirements of each career into an aptitude profile that reflects a successful person in that career. This aptitude profile is then matched against a client's aptitude profile to suggest best-fit careers where the client will succeed.
Once your aptitudes and interests are measured, a comparison is made of your profile to the profiles of more than 500 O*NET careers. This specific careers were strategically selected for inclusion in LAT based on their current and future promise. Next, they generate “fit” scores for each of those careers in terms of aptitudes, interests, and overall fit, and present to you a list of those careers that fit you best. The algorithms used to compare your score profile to the career profiles are informed by decades of psychological research on factors to consider when matching people to careers.
The Science Behind Latitude For more than 100 years, psychologists have been studying what makes people happy and successful at work. Two fundamental ideas have persisted: (1) people tend to choose and remain in careers that interest them, and (2) people succeed in careers where they can use their natural aptitudes. LAT is premised on these ideas. We help you uncover your interests and natural aptitudes, and then help you find careers that match up with them. Sounds simple, right? Actually, doing this right is harder than you might think. For example, How do we know which interests to ask you about? How do we know which aptitudes to ask you about? How do we measure your interests and aptitudes? How do we match you to careers based on your interests and aptitudes?
Answers to all of these questions could simply be made up by a few people sitting in a room, but the results wouldn’t be pretty. The answers LAT provides are grounded in nearly a century of research and scientific data stemming from the fields of vocational counseling and industrial-organizational psychology.
Your Interests Early in the 20th century, psychologists began to study people’s work-related interests, which can be grouped into six types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Together, these types constitute what psychologists call the RIASEC model of vocational interests, which has become the dominant model of interests used by vocational counselors and researchers alike.
Numerous research studies conducted over the past several decades indicate that the degree to which a person’s interests match up with the type of activities performed on a job can predict a number of important outcomes: (a) which careers people choose, (b) whether people are satisfied with their jobs, (c) whether they stay in or leave a job, and (d) how well they perform on the job. The approach LAT uses to measure your interests is based on the RIASEC model.
Your Aptitudes Since the late 1800's, scientists have worked to understand the nature of human aptitudes. You can think of aptitudes as natural abilities that make it easier (or harder) for you to learn and be good at various types of work. As with interests, one might imagine that people can have a really wide range of aptitudes. Again, scientists have conducted studies that have allowed them to boil aptitudes down to some major types.
In 1940, a psychologist named Louis Thurstone conducted a study that involved administering a large number of ability tests (56 of them) to a large group of students. Upon analyzing the students’ scores on these tests, Thurstone found that subsets of those tests produced similar results and reflected what Thurstone called primary mental abilities. Since Thurstone’s work, many psychologists have conducted similar types of research and have come to similar conclusions: Human mental abilities can be boiled down to a limited number of key types, and those types show up across numerous studies. The types of aptitudes assessed within LAT are consistent with those found by Thurstone, yet offer finer-grained perspectives on your abilities which, in turn, can help us better pinpoint the careers in which you may perform well.
Measuring Your Interests and Aptitudes Measuring interest and aptitudes is not like measuring physical attributes, like height or weight. You can’t see interests or abilities. So how do they do it? The science behind measuring psychological attributes is called psychometrics. There are standards for determining the quality of psychological measures. These standards, grounded in the principles of psychometrics, reflect the views of psychologists and experts in educational and psychological measurement. Two critical indicators of quality measurement are that the scores resulting from psychological measures show evidence of reliability and validity given their intended use.
Reliability is the consistency of the scores produced by a test. For example, if you were asked the same question on different occasions, would you give the same answers? If not, your scores wouldn’t be very reliable because it would be impossible to tell which answers reflect the "real you."
Validity is evidence that your test results make it possible to draw accurate conclusions regarding how you will behave or feel. For example, if your scores indicate you’d potentially be good at or interested in a career involving science, would you actually be? In other words, does the test measure what it is supposed to measure?
OK - there’s your quick lesson in Psychometrics 101. So how do the measures used within LAT stack up in terms of reliability and validity evidence? The interest measure underlying the LAT system – the Interest Profiler Short Form (IPSF) – was developed by psychologists working for the National Center for Occupational Information Network (O*NET) Development. The O*NET is the primary source of occupation information in the U.S. and was developed and is maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
Research conducted during the development of the IPSF provides solid evidence that (a) it produces reliable scores for each of the RIASEC interest dimensions, and (b) the scores it produces for those dimensions show good correspondence with another well-established, independently developed measure of the RIASEC interest dimensions (a key form of validity evidence).
The aptitude measure underlying LAT is a computerized variation of the Ball Aptitude Battery (BAB). The BAB is one of the better known and well-researched multi-aptitude tests available today. Previous research established evidence of (a) the reliability of aptitude scores it produces, (b) the correspondence of its aptitude scores with other well-established and independently developed measures of aptitudes (a key form of validity evidence), and (c) its ability to predict actual performance on various jobs.
Continuous Improvement of the Matching Process The algorithms and analytics used to compare your aptitudes and interests to career profiles are being continuously evaluated, providing you the best career recommendations possible. As LAT “learns” more about you, the data amassed helps refine the quality of the results. It is part of a comprehensive plan to improve the person-to-career matching process and provide the best recommendations possible.