Beginners Guide: The Science Behind Personality Psychometrics and Marketing

The individuality of consumers can play directly into the hands of marketers. You can come up with target audiences. Your message is tailored to these groups to give them the maximum chance of success.

Developing your consumer groups requires some sort of measurement. Preferably not Guesswork, ‘In-My-Own-Image’ or ‘Where I Live’.

You need to empirically understand how your consumers think. You need to measure their psychological processes – and this is where psychometrics comes in.

What Is Psychometrics?

 Psychometrics is any measurable psychological property. This property needs to be quantifiable (even if there are a small number of categories), individually consistent (not change significantly for each person over a period of time) and globally variable (varying across population so there is a meaningful level of difference).

Typically, psychometrics fall into one of two categories – intelligence and personality.

You’re probably familiar with intelligence psychometric tests, such as IQ. But personality psychometrics are much more powerful from a marketing perspective.

Introducing Personality Psychometrics

Personality psychometrics describe different models of personality. The reason it’s so difficult to pinpoint these models is that there are many different views on your personality drivers. Why does one person prefer going to a party and another wants to curl up with a book? Or one prefer Apple over Android?

Opinions differ, so there are many different personality models out there trying to categorise personality types.

You may have heard of the Myers-Briggs questionnaire, which categorises people into 16 sets depending on how they view the world and make decisions.

The Keirsey self-assessment is another method, which is very similar to the Myers-Brigg questionnaire, and also divides people into 16 personality types. But, while the Myers-Brigg focuses on how people think and feel, Keirsey looks at how they behave – which is easier to measure.

Both are popular methods for the business world to assess employees, but they do not really stand up to scrutiny from a psychometric standpoint. These methods are often viewed as unreliable (different people can score differently on different days) and giving poor validity (that it doesn’t actually measure what it’s meant to measure).


Also known as the Five Factor Model, OCEAN is different from Myers-Brigg and Keirsey because it is formed around a mathematical technique called factor analysis. Subjectivity is taken out of the equation to group together five personality descriptors.

These are:

  1. Openness to experience,
  2. Conscientiousness,
  3. Extraversion,
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism.

Beneath each descriptor sits a number of additional and correlated personality qualities. For example, extraversion links with gregariousness, excitement seeking, assertiveness, activity, warmth and other positive emotions.

In other words, OCEAN describes an individual as an individual and it’s based on strong numerical methods.

It’s a truly psychometric test as it’s quantifiable, individually consistent and globally variable.

How Personality Psychometrics Describe Our Natural Tendencies

Psychometric methods allow you to segment customers in a quantitative way to give more reliable results.

If you can describe your customers numerically, you can generate and refine your descriptive models of consumer behaviour. Traditional segmentation methods, such as demographics, make (usually incorrect assumptions) about our lives and what we want.

For example, say you’re a 30-something with two small children, Facebook will target you with adverts for gym memberships and divorce lawyers. I’ll let you decide if that fits with what this demographic is actually interested in.

Demographics link vague assumptions to create weak groupings. A psychometric is ten times more powerful to get the right message to the right person.

If we can break down segments into psychological processes, and then quantify them – you will get a more accurate view of consumer behaviour.

Complexity Forces Accuracy

 A complex psychometric description of your target consumer also forces you to use more quantitative techniques to target the right consumer.


Let’s say you’re tasked with writing a cold email as part of a marketing campaign. All the information you have is that you’ll be targeting men aged between 25 and 40.

Where would you start? What common thread would you use to weave together all of this demographic to create a targeted campaign addressed to their needs? I know I’d struggle.

Now, let’s approach the problem from a psychometric point-of-view. You are asked to write the same email to target men that react to celebrity endorsements and have an affinity for travel and outdoor pursuits.

Suddenly, appealing to this set of individuals is much easier. The result is that your email will stand out from the competition, and it’s more likely to strike a chord with your target audience. It gives you the competitive edge.

Psychometrics not only makes it easier to identify your target audience, but also makes it easier to find and confirm you have the right target audience.

Facilitating Creativity

Psychometrics gives you the insights you need to tailor your approach to different personality types. You can formulate different messages or use different formats to appeal to different personality segments.

This not only lets you be more creative in your marketing and brand management – it means the right message gets to the right person.

Suddenly, all aspects of your marketing campaigns are based on really understanding your customer – not the guesswork of whether a 30-something parent wants to lose weight and get divorced.