Measuring Trustworthiness and Other Traits

difficult to assess reliably

The SQ method may be used to measure other traits. By varying the basic question asked in side A of the form, a whole range of hard-to-measure traits can be assessed. As with SQ, members of a group taking the survey must know each other to some degree.

Scores on trustworthiness or other traits would reflect the consensus of peers. Unlike most psychological assessments, the SQ method completely avoids self-bias in measuring traits. This method does not come up with an absolute measure of integrity, but instead presents a community assessment. We use such collective judgements (rather than absolutes) in many other areas, such as in the prices for art and most goods.

Like an IQ test, each assessment of SQ or another trait is an approximation. As added SQ-type surveys are taken by various groups in which an individual is a member, his scores would converge to an increasingly reliable number. See Reliability of SQ numbers (about the same as IQ scores).

The actual question on Trustworthiness (or other trait) on side A would be critical. For example, the sales clerk question used for Social Quotient is not a perfect one for social skills. Because people do not want to go to a dumb clerk, an element of intelligence is introduced into the results. But students and employers objected to the "purer" question of "Whom would you prefer to be with on a lunch break?" Social Quotent scores based on the lunch break question showed no correlation with intelligence, as predicted by Cornell psychologist Stephen Ceci.

For Trustworthiness, survey takers might be asked to think of themselves as preparing to leave for several months. They have a sports car that will need occasional short trips to keep it in good running condition, and wonder who they should ask to do this. Those who score high on such a question might do well in a career involving trust/ reliability/ integrity, as a lawyer.

(Note of thanks: The idea of expanding the Social Quotient approach to measure other traits was originated by Julie Becker, programs coordinator of the Vallejo CA Rotary Club and member of the Board of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce)

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