How COMET Breaks Through the Challenges of Self-Assessment
by Patrick Merlevede, jobEQ's leading researcher

A series of at least 10 psychological studies done between 1976 and 1990 shows that many people tend to overestimate their abilities. We tend to think of ourselves as having better leadership skills, more intelligence and a better life than our peers. This theory and other problems with human reasoning are well explained in the book "How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life" by Thomas Gilovich (1991). Gilovich writes: "We are inclined to adopt self-serving beliefs about ourselves, and comforting beliefs about the world." and he cites Francis Bacon: "Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true."

Thus, even if people being tested would be willing to give a fair view of their competencies, my expectation is that self-assessment is an unreliable form of measuring one's level of competence. Unfortunately, this has been confirmed several times when jobEQ used competency questionnaires in recruiting and coaching. So why did we then develop the COMET/EQ questionnaire, which asks people about their abilities?

The answer is only as a demonstration! Yes, the first version of the COMET/EQ questionnaire is a self-assesment questionnaire, which contains statements related to emotional intelligence. This demonstration gives you an idea about the experience of filling out a questionnaire, but differs from the "real thing" in two important aspects. First, the "real" use of any COMET questionnaire is 360° feedback. This means that your peers, bosses, collaborators, and subordinates are asked to assess you. These results are then aggregated, giving a more neutral impression than self-assesment. Secondly, people trained to use the COMET methodology have learned a specific form of behavioral-based interviewing. They use interview techniques to check upon the results of the questionnaire. From experience, we know that these interviews give more accurate results than self-assessment.

Another issue is the content of the questionnaire. This was also originally for demonstration purposes! While we know that these statements accurately define emotional intelligence, these sample statements may or may not be relevant for you the competencies you need for your job. It is different for every job. To put it another way: For some jobs, a bad score on this questionnaire is correlated with high performance! That's why the standard use of the COMET methodology prescribes that an organization builds its own questionnaires, based upon interviews with the top performers doing that job.

To jobEQ, the COMET methodology is more important than the software. It represents the latest evolution of self- and peer-assessment. Even though COMET/EQ was developed as a demonstration, and for use with academic research, is has also been made available for commercial purposes (e.g. for assessing EQ as part of an Emotional Intelligence training program). If you want to test competencies, whether via 360° feedback or behavior-based interviewing, our partners can help you execute this process in a scientifically sound way.

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The Integral Perspectives Group is an associate since 1998
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last modified: 2006/Aug/07 15:57 UTC