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Criterion Validity

What is Criterion Validity?

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains criterion validity.

grey clock icon 0:42 Quickly understand what criterion validity means.

Criterion validity, also known as criterion-related validity or predictive validity, relates to whether a psychometric assessment predicts certain real-world outcomes which are associated with the psychological construct it measures. For example, cognitive ability tests are well known predictors of job performance, and thus a common criterion validity study will involve showing a positive association between cognitive ability test scores and manager ratings. If the assessment displays a sufficiently strong, positive correlation with manager ratings, this represents evidence of criterion validity. However, if the assessment shows little-no relationship with manager ratings, this suggests that the assessment lacks criterion validity.

Criterion validity offers a range of advantages and drawbacks. In the context of employee selection, criterion validity is highly desirable, as the objective of pre-employment assessments is to predict job performance, culture-fit, or employee retention. Showing that assessments predict these outcomes is advantageous, highlighting the utility of the assessment in practice. However, criterion validity does not necessarily imply construct validity. For example, a test designed to measure numerical reasoning may effectively predict performance in the workplace, but could in actuality be measuring a different construct, such as verbal reasoning or logical reasoning. This could result in redundancy in the selection process if that employer is already using a verbal or logical reasoning test elsewhere.

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