The new year brought with it the annual British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology conference. The Thomas Psychology team were in attendance in Liverpool along with Martin Reed (CEO) and Ciaran Morton (UK MD) in tow.
The conference provides the opportunity for delegates to keep up to date on industry trends and developments, hear from both academics and practitioners and showcase projects, case studies and new methodologies.
The DOP was an exciting and challenging lend of academic rigour, thought leadership and practical applications of psychological thinking as it relates to the workplace.
Ciaran Morton, UK MD of Thomas International
The theme of this year’s conference was “Research into Practice: Relevance and Rigour”. As pertinent now as ever, and certainly something of a key focus for the Psychology team. There is often a disconnect between academic research and practice being applied by industry practitioners, where data and findings are not shared between these two groups (and often within as well).
Thomas International’s very own Senior Research Analyst, Sonya Bendriem, delivered a presentation on how to bridge the gap between academic theory and commercial practice from a research analyst’s perspective. This presentation was underpinned by the whole theme of the conference and emphasised the need to apply evidence based practice in HR processes despite often unavoidable challenges.
A central challenge faced by academics transitioning from a research to applied environment is control; control over project design, methodology, sampling, metrics and experimental conditions. In an academic setting you can run experiments for longer, set stringent criteria and ensure you collect the right data, in the right format. In an applied setting, you need to work in alignment with the practical and commercial realities of people, personalities, budgets and timelines when establishing what is feasibly possible.
Sonya Bendriem, Senior Research Analyst of Thomas International
The costs of not following such best practice were highlighted in various talks and keynote speeches. Notably that of Susan Fiske, Professor of Psychology at Princeton University, who outlined her fascinating research on stereotypes and perceived warmth and competence. One of the fundamental purposes of using objective measures such as the psychometric assessments provided by Thomas International is to remove enduring and ubiquitous cognitive biases.
Rob Briner of Queen Mary University London, who recently topped the list of most influential thinkers in HR, continued to promote how essential evidence-based practice is, and how to overcome the challenges that present themselves through using a range of difference sources of evidence and not limiting oneself to a restricted dataset or parochial view. These sources are as follows:
- The best available academic research evidence
- Practitioner expertise and judgement
- Key stakeholder perspectives
- Evidence from the local context
Thomas International had a significant presence at the conference this year. In addition to Sonya’s presentation, Thomas also sponsored the event and delivered a workshop on our latest leadership assessment, the High Potential Trait Indicator (HPTI).
The HPTI workshop allowed us to showcase how Thomas as an organisation are constantly bridging the gap between the worlds of academia and business. HPTI, an assessment developed at University College London by Professor Adrian Furnham and Ian MacRae, has been launched globally by Thomas International with the assurance of being underpinned by academic rigour.
The conference as a whole was well aligned with how we at Thomas position ourselves as leaders of assessment innovation as well as continuous refinement and validation of our suite of assessments.