Psychological Testing Without Psychological Tests
Help With Knowing Self and World
Posted Feb 28, 2014
Self and World are perceived through the prisms of values and we are prisoners of values. For over a hundred years psychology has consistently failed to develop a science of values. Some regard this as a tragic flaw in the profession of psychology and even civilization itself.
During my post-doctoral internship with Dr. Albert Ellis values replaced Sigmund Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego in my training. It was psychologist Ellis who introduced me to philosopher Hartman’s study of values. Because Hartman failed to publish data supporting his theory, and its foremost application of The Hartman Value Profile (HVP), I lost interest. What follows is an account of what happened seven years later, and how two friends were there when I needed them.
Professional Wilderness Years:
After failing to see in Hartman’s approach to values what Ellis wanted me to see, I continued my quest for a deeper understanding of the clinical relevance of values, beyond academic studies, on my own. Looking back, I view those years as my “professional wilderness years.” It was a period of confusion with Abraham Maslow suggesting the concept of value might be obsolete, and Milton Rokeach asserting the concept of value is the most important, least studied, and least understood concept in all of psychology. No one knew how to approach the study of values from the dual perspectives of clinical relevance and scientific discipline. When I asked Professor Rokeach what he thought of Hartman’s contributions he responded “I don’t understand him.”
My organizational work with Linus Pauling building the International Academy of Preventive Medicine (IAPM), my interest in issues of patient compliance in preventive medicine, my academic association with Chairman Gilbert who authored Psychology of Dictatorship and Nurenberg Diary following his role as Psychologist at the Nurenberg Trials, and my position as Senior Staff Psychologist at the Brooklyn VA Hospital’s Outpatient Clinic treating World War II Veterans, deepened my interest in values as related to the mental health of individuals and collectives, including failed states and the historic example of the Germany that embraced Hitler’s dilettantish, amateurish, romantic, ideology in numbers sufficient to wage war for the second time in the 20th century. There are lessons to be learned from what ails our society, the German experience, and their relation to the evolution of natural science and technology without moral science checks and balances.
My “professional wilderness years” ended abruptly one September day when my psychiatrist friend Val unexpectedly suggested we spend the weekend on Cape Cod. Val had flunked his road-test for a driver’s license four times and was dependent on his girlfriend and others when it came to road trips. I agreed to go and serendipity followed me that weekend in a manner that rivals Alexander Fleming’s chance discovery of penicillin in 1928. Is serendipity the right word? I’m told it is among the ten most difficult English words to translate. However, no other word comes close to capturing what happened to me. I met Salvador Roquet, M.D., the Mexican psychiatrist who happened to be a friend of philosopher Robert Hartman…the same Hartman whose approach to values I had rejected seven years earlier.
Roquet’s skill with the Hartman Value Profile (HVP) got my attention. I came to see it as a “merciful empirical handle” to Hartman’s theory of value and a “quick test” of the psychological consequences of how we organize and exercise values. Indeed, it appeared to be a psychological test without psychological testing. Roquet spoke my language. He clarified Hartman’s approach to values in ways Rokeach would have understood, and in ways I understood. He defined Hartman’s Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Systemic dimensions of value and valuation. Later, I would more intuitively refer to these dimensions as the Feeler, Doer and Thinker dimensions of value. They are so basic and fundamental they are imprinted on all emotions, motivations, and behavior, and give rise to the Feeler-Self, Doer-Self, and Thinker-Self. They also imprint and modulate associated mental states, mind-sets, frames-of-reference, self-esteem, consciousness and the “spiritual dimensions” of transcendental consciousness. We spoke of how values are the “taproots” of everything psychological and that a science of values is surely the “holy grail” of psychology, and all the social sciences. With Val shaking his head in disagreement or ambivalence, I acknowledged that psychology’s failure to develop a science of values was something we had to think about and do something about, and so far all we had was Hartman’s theory of value which is not a science of values.
Once upon a time Richard Bishop and I were doctoral students at the University of Texas at Austin. His major was biomedical engineering and mine was psychology. We bonded over dissertations studying brain waves (i.e., EEGs) using different methods. I recorded them at the Clayton Foundation and we analyzed them in biomedical engineering labs equipped with the latest equipment and computers. I used statistical methods. Richard used decision theory. Our data processing included a special computer available to students between midnight and sunrise. It converted (i.e., digitized) brain waves into numbers understood by the main frame computers in an air conditioned, underground building across campus. In those days it filled a room, and today the same computer is found in portable digital cameras and cell phones.
My research took place under Sputnik. It was generously funded by my government at the time. Richard went on to become Professor and a Dean of Engineering at a Southern University, and I became Professor of Psychology at a Northern University, then Staff Psychologist at a Veterans Administration Hospital, and licensed clinical psychologist in private practice on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Returning to Manhattan, I obtained copies of the Standard HVP and Manual of Interpretation with the help of John Davis, Chairman of the Philosophy Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. It was there Hartman taught for six months a year when not teaching at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. I began testing new patients in my practice and monitoring the progress of others. In doing so, I discovered how tedious and time consuming hand scoring of The Hartman Value Profile (HVP) was. I called Richard for help developing the software needed to computer score the HVP as outlined in the Manual of Interpretation available to qualified individuals engaged in clinical practice, research, consulting and coaching. I developed a “green thumb” interpreting test results guided by Hartman’s philosophical and existential discussions appearing in the manual. I believed the test and theory behind the HVP “seeded” my profession and the world with the promise of a science of values if only I could establish the validity of the theory of value from the perspective of science as the exercise of reason plus empiricism. The empiricism was something Hartman and his students neglected in any formal and transparent sense. The single minded focus on logic, reason and mathematics contributed to the failure of the world to recognize Hartman's achiivement in his lifetime. In any event, I came to appreciate that his approach to values constituted both an elegant theory and set of testable hypotheses which I planned to examine using the best tests and measures of my profession, and then go public with the results. The proprietary and competitive concerns of entrepreneurs marketing the test to business clients meant this was never done.
Data convinced me that Hartman’s revolutionary, operational definition of “good,” without using examples of good, worked. I concluded his contributions and theoretical work had to be taken seriously at a time when scientists, and most in my profession, failed to do so. I was in my early thirties and fired- up over examining Hartman’s theory and value profiling methodology (HVP). I sensed I was walking down memory lane with Richard as I began to examine the HVP from many angles using many of the "tools" of my doctoral dissertation. I worked on my "validation project" as often as my busy professional life, my life as a Manhattan bachelor, oranizatonal work, pursuit of photography and travel, and frequent trips to be with my extended Massachusetts family allowed.
I recall how one of my senior colleagues, during my professor days warned, even pontificated with the proverb, that goes: “he who rides two horses falls between the horses.” I suppose my various activities slowed me down. It took me some twenty years to gather the data I wanted, and then another five years to summarize these data in the pages of The New Science of Axiological Psychology (Rodopi Press, 2005). I never “fell between the horses,” but some suggested I had become "Hartman’s bulldog,” much as T. H. Huxley was seen as “Charles Darwin’s bulldog” in the 19th century. At least my role wasn't all presence and no substance and I mean to compare Hartman's achievements to those of Darwin, even though I’m no Huxley.
I discovered the Hartman Value Profile (HVP) was constructed in Mexico by philosopher Robert S. Hartman in collaboration with his student and psychologist Mario Cardenas, whom I met on two occasions. Cardenas told me he had been a post-doc under psychoanalyst Eric Fromm in Mexico, at about the time I was a post-doc under Albert Ellis in Manhattan. The theoretical differences in our training never came between us in the way Fromm’s psychoanalysis and Hartman’s philosophy came between them. Dr. Cardenas was also a student of philosopher Robert S. Hartman at the time when Hartman and Fromm were neighbors at Cuernevaca, the land of “eternal spring” outside Mexico City. Cardenas kept his association with Hartman a secret from Fromm who had nothing good to say about Hartman’s approach to values. Cardenas confirmed how they went on to construct the HVP without resorting to or publishing valildation studies.
While my psychoanalyst friend Val, like psychoanalyst Eric Fromm, wasn’t on friendly terms with my pursuit of a science of values and morals, my engineering friend Richard was supportive. He always wanted to know more. The fact that Hartman’s test defied the test construction guidelines of the APA aroused his interest as did its purely theoretical origins.
My clinical use of the HVP and initial validity studies convinced me I was on to something big. The “awe factor” was that the test performed like a psychological test without psychological testing. I saw it as the tip of an “alternative psychology." Richard at New Orleans and John Davis at Knoxville gave me access to their university computers before personal computers existed, and when computer time was rationed and expensive. I was having fun without deadlines or supervisors. I could afford the significant costs involved which included trips abroad made possible by income as a Senior Career Psychologist with the U.S. Government and successful private practice on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
With the arrival of personal computers, I bought one and began running data at my office. I lectured on my findings (e.g., The Southeastern Psychological Associaiton and The Eastern Psychological Association, Society for the Study of Group Tensions, VA Seminars and Staff Meetings, Annual Meetings of the Hartman Institute, etc.), I published data in journals and chapters of books edited by others. ( Go to: http://www.hartmaninstitute.org ). Richard followed my activities from the perspective of an engineer into details and precision. He was comfortable with my scientist-clinician orientation that totally escaped my psychoanalyst friend Val. Richard was familiar with the test and how it worked around two lists of eighteen items (i.e., phrases and quotations) that one is asked to rank from good to bad. You can say, this exercise of serial value choices revealed one’s habitual evaluative habits across some thirty scales of the HVP...having considerable psychological relevance. Relevance because everything psychological is axiological or grounded in the “taproots” of values and valuations. The psychological relevance of valuational-styles, enabling thought-styles and belief-systems is fodder for the grist mill of cognitive psychology, and something I demonstrated by correlating HVP scales with the corresponding personality and clinical scales of objective tests like the MMPI and Cattell CAQ. I avoided projective tests like the Rorschach or TAT. The HVP test items displayed below are “linguistic proxies” that “tag” or “flag” underlying combinations of Feeler, Doer, and Thinker value dimensions taken two at a time. Ranking these flags or proxies (i.e., phrases and quotations) effectively ranks underlying value dimensions. There are two versions of the HVP called parallel forms. One is the Research Version and the other is the Standard Version. I directly, systematically and publically validated the Standard Version of the HVP which indirectly validated the theory of value behind the test.
The Hartman Value Profile (HVP):
The following list presents Part I and II of the parallel form of the Standard HVP which is The Research Version. It presents phrases and quotations "flagging" each of the eighteen Feeler, Doer, Thinker value combinations taken two at a time. They "lurk" behind and "anchor" these phrases and quotations in ways anyone can understand. One ranks these test items from good to bad. You can say, this amounts to "spilling one's axiologcial beans" ( i.e., axios = value; ology = science of ). This rankng behavior is full of personal information extracted by the HVP because everything psychological involves values and valuations. Here is The Research Version of the HVP.
A new car
A scientific experiment
A foolish thought
A citation for a good deed
Poisoning the city water
Imprison an innocent person
A false coin
A token of love
A lover’s embrace
Raping a child
A life of adventure
A decoration for bravery
My health is good and that makes me feel well
My mind is clear and makes me understand things
My mind is not very clear and I don’t understand things too well
When I think badly, I actually get sick
My health is poor
I am thinking clearly and that makes me happy
I am so unhappy, I’m actually sick
I am so unhappy, I can ‘t think straight
My health is poor and hampers my thinking
I am healthy and that makes me happy
I love to be myself
I hate to be myself
My good spirits keep me in good health
I don’t understand things very well and that makes me unhappy
The more clearly I think the healthier I feel
My poor health makes me unhappy
My good spirits keep my mind clear
My good health helps me to think straight
The Standard HVP and Research HVP appear different because the test items (i.e., the linguistic proxies or phrases and quotations) are different. My research proved the validity of the Standard HVP which is not shown here. The difference in their "face validity" (i.e., linguistic proxies) provides parallel forms of the HVP for different applications. Even so, the underlying value combinations, defining each of the eighteen test items, are common to all versions of the test. Again, “value combinations” refer to the coming together of the Feeler, Doer, and Thinker dimensions of value, two at a time. (This is the straightforward combination of three dimensions taken two at a time). In addition to parallel forms of the test, some entrepreneurs construct derivative or second generation instruments. Each must undergo its own validation, but this is another story.
Richard’s software worked well. His "engineer-self" was interested in the mathematical modeling of values embedded in Hartman's theory of value and displayed with the HVP. I told him the math was “set theory” which we were exposed to in college, but never studied in depth. I told him the mathematical model was a "first approximation" of what's needed, and that we can expect debate concernng it, as well as refinements in response to various applications including research involving the co-play and counter-play of reason and empiricism, which was largely missing in its historical development.
Richard would tease me concerning my apparent quest for a “moral mathematics” to help me with my concept of “moral insanity” predisposing one to “clinical insanities" diagnosed and treated by psychologists.” (What is insanity? The concept implies significant problems in living. It implies significant self-defeating as opposed to self-benefiting behavior. Imagine a behavioral continuum from pro-self, pro-social to anti-self, anti-social behavior. Insanity breaks out at the anti-self, anti-social end, and is amplified by the absence or failure of coping skills, social stress and the neurochemistry of "brain disease." The social context is interesting in its own right and involves collectives such as social movements and the zeitgeist (i.e., the spirit of the times with one example being the mass hystera of the Salem Witch Trials).
The irony of three axiological dimensions replacing Freud’s three dimensions of Id, Ego, and Superego interested Richard. Was this meaningful? He speculated the three value dimensions were a response to the laws of physics (i.e., thermodynamics), and especially the law of conservation of energy. After all, the continued development of values is something one could “choke on” if they weren’t organized in some fashion. The existence of three dimensions of value might reflect the amount of energy we spend on Feeling, Doing and Thinking and in that order of importance. Testing these dimensions produces a measure of one’s General Capacity to Value (GCV) while measuring the sensitivity, balance, order of importance, and plasticity of the Feeler, Doer and Thinker dimensions of value. They contain “fluid” and “crystalized” values, plus more superficial attitudes, enabling thought-styles and belief-systems lurking beneath emotions and behavior, including complex behaviors like identity and self-esteem. Considering that values are the “taproots” of everything psychological, it isn’t surprising that the Feeler, Doer, Thinker dimensions are imprinted on all behavior.
I came to know the phrases and quotations are carefully chosen to represent eighteen underlying value combinations in Parts I and II of the HVP. These in turn are made up of nine positive compositions and nine negative transpositions. Here’s what I mean: Chocolate on ice cream is an example of composition. Sawdust on ice cream is an example of transposition. We are “hard wired” to respond quickly to transpositions. This has survival value. Consider the sound of a twig snapping in the forest at night. This experiential transposition commands immediate attention. “What was that?” A good night kiss is an experiential composition that “washes” more slowly over us. Life is full of perceptual compositions and transpositions. It is no accident the test is designed to detect how we discriminate and confuse them.
No one taking the HVP is expected to rank order the pure value combinations themselves. They’re too abstract. (e.g., the Feeler-Valuation-of-a-Thinker-Belief). It’s easier to rank an example of the value combinaton, and the phrase or quotation (linguistic proxy) is the example. That’s why we “tag” or “flag” the value combinations with simple and symbolic phrases and quotations. In ranking them we “drag” the underlying value combinations along with them such that they too get ranked from good to bad. This procedure generates deviation scores reflecting how much one’s ranking deviates from the test’s assertion of "normative ranking." Our value science (axiological science) tells us what's normal! The smaller the score the better, for this reflects choices (rankings) that come closer to the “norm of the test." This begs questions concerning the "reference norm” , where the "reference norm" comes from, and "its validity?" Quite amazingly, it is derived from the mathematical model embedded in Hartman’s theory of value, and my published research has established its validity!
I'm writing this blog at a time when there is much talk about a government sponsored "brain science initiative," without mention of a "mind science initiative" of the sort my validation of Hartman's theoretical contributions makes possible. This "validation project" began with testing patients presenting all sorts of problems in living, doctors, professors, high achievers, students, substance abusers, combat veterans, former Prisoners of War, and students from around the world including countries like Japan, Russia, Mexico, and Indonesia in an effort to harvest cross-national or cross-cultural data. I lectured in those countries. In return they gave me students to test. I witnessed how the incredible signature "dances" of three, core value dimensions served to identify (i.e., differentiate) students from different countries. Their Feeler-habits, Doer-habits, and Thinker-habits differed enough to be detected by the HVP. In this regard, the Japanese were most like the Russians which amused the Russians. It also significantly distinguished students from patients, students from doctors, students from high achievers on the basis of valuational styles detected by The Hartman Value Profile (HVP).
The serial value-choices, involved in the ranking of test items, are executed at the level of the “puppeteer mind” pulling the strings of the “puppet brain;” although the puppet brain has a few strings of its own as revealed by psychosomatic signs and symptoms. Today’s MRI inspired neuroscience must not steal the show at the expense of our science of values aimed at studying the deep, habitual evaluative habits of mind. It's time to strike a better balance between a "brain science initiative" and a "mind science initiative" in the allocation of research funds. With the emergence of value science (i.e., mind science) to compliment natural science (i.e., brain science), we now have an opportunity to do this. Let's recall that we must have two systems of science; 1. historic natural science and 2. the science of values or axiological science.
Richard’s development of software to score the HVP left him aware of the fact that the obtained HVP scores are deviation scores. He wanted to know more about the “norm” against which one’s results are compared and judged. (It is the relation between "obtained-scores" and "test-norm" that generates the "deviation scores."). The "test-norm” is derived from Hartman’s definition of “good” and resulting logic and mathematics that result in his theory of value. The concept of a "disembodied norm” against which human performances are measured troubled him. Like most of us, Richard thought of "test norms” as being generated from reference populations as when "patients" are compared to "non-patient" populations. Thus, the “norm” of Hartman’s HVP is counter-intuitive; but my data proves it works. Albert Ellis thought enough of Hartman’s work to quote him when writing about the value of the human being in his discussions of self-esteem vs. self-acceptance which I've covered in previous blogs. Richard, the engineer, found all this amazing. He wondered how a mathematical model of values and valuations could produce a “norm” against which to campare and judge behavior, including moral behavior. Is a “moral mathematics” possible? Can it give us a deeper understanding of “moral insanity” and enable the “moral education” that holds the promise of tomorrow’s preventive psychology today? Try to find these concepts and issues in psychology and social science! Only axiological psychology based on axiological science can "touch" them with any scientific precision!
It troubled Richard that Hartman had managed to construct a test of values without supporting, empirical tests and measures along the way. How could an operational definition of good, logic, mathematics, and reason produce this theory of value that inspired my empirical examination of it. This is a great question and one I postponed dealing with at the time in order to revisit Hartman’s book entitled The Structure of Value, and his autobiographical Freedom to Live. Because I’m running out of “blog space” at the moment, I will postpone further consideration of the "test norm” (i.e., list of "correct" rankings). In the meantime, I leave you with this abbreviated tour of "Hartman horizons," the "validity project," and the "birth of a science of values and valuations" without which there can never be a science of psychology.
© Dr. Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D.
p.s. It is likely that the new discipline of "behavioral economics," and what is called "the dismal science of economics," will profit from advances in value science, and its foremost application of The Hartman Value Profile (HVP), in years to come.