Axiology vs. Psychology: Understand This Distinction to Power Your Hiring

Written by Dr. Robert Smith | Jan 30, 2018

Axiology vs Psychology

My name is Dr. Robert Smith, the creator of the ZERORISK Hiring System. I am also an industry leader in the science of axiology used in pre-employment testing, behavioral interviewing, management training, and team building.

Previously in my career applying the science of axiology to team building, I worked with the Philadelphia Flyers NHL team when they were looking to build a championship-level squad.

It seemed that the head coach was looking for basic psychological insight to better connect with his players. I was able to take the coach deeper by comparing the thinking patterns of his players to the characteristics of a championship team.

Once we established the makeup of a championship team, we compared that benchmark profile to the individual players on the team. The data indicated that two-thirds of the players were inward thinkers, which was not ideal for a championship team. The players needed to be outward thinkers so they could communicate effectively in stressful situations, such as a high-pressure Playoffs game when the season is on the line.

The team obviously could not trade away two-thirds of their roster if they wanted to fill a team each night. Instead, I told the coach to watch for instances of inward thinking in key situations and to identify opportunities to coach the players to become more outward thinkers.

What was the Data Source for This Evaluation?

You might be wondering where the data came from to support the conclusion that the Flyers' squad was deficient in championship-caliber thinkers.

First, it is important to understand that the science of axiology is based on applying science to understand the thinking and values that are inherent to specific individuals. Each of us has measurable thinking that tell a story about how we assign value (or meaning) to ourselves and the world around us.

Comparatively, a field of study such as psychology is based on observing behavior and looking to draw conclusions. Axiology is deductive, psychology is inductive.

A psychologist's process is to observe behaviors, see what behaviors are consistent, categorize that consistent group into a particular category, and see what else is consistent with people in that category. Psychologists are looking for associations and similarities to draw conclusions.

However, axiology is science based on an axiom, which is a key element found in the world such as a math or science formula that defines how something work. Applied to people, axiology captures a person's relationship to the axiom of good and provides a measurement of these values. How does a person decide that something is good? Furthermore, what is good?

This type of value science extends further to the application of good. If the data says that someone is 6'5", is that good? It depends. If you're an astronaut, that's bad because you're too tall, but if you're a defenseman in hockey, that can be good because it gives you a size advantage over competitors.

Advancing from physical traits to thinking patterns, let's say you assign your employees to read an award-winning book on communication. The available data such as a book review or Amazon.com rating says the book is good. However, one person might apply a negative value to the book because it's extra work on top of their regular responsibilities. Someone else might apply a positive value to the book because they want to learn and grow in their role.

The science of axiology is a formal science that can mathematically deduce with great precision the thinking patterns of an individual to determine their value system.

How Does This Data Science Apply to Hiring?

What I have found throughout my career introducing axiological-based assessments to companies is that many decision-makers are just looking for a standard evaluation of candidates. Call it a personality test or basic measurement tool; they simply want to obtain more information about a candidate that they can read on a piece of paper.

Unfortunately, more information is not always good information. A basic personality test or measurement tool can be misleading, creating risk of making the wrong hiring decision.

An assessment based on axiology is different. It measures how a person uses their thinking to compare values. For instance, when you start the day, you choose to do some things and not do others. The reason why you make certain choices is based on your system of thought. An axiology assessment measures an individual's clarity of thought and what value the individual places on certain choices in relation to others.

For example, if you are hiring for a customer service representative in your company, you need to compare each candidate's assessment to the characteristics of an ideal representative. This process of using data science in hiring allows you to make informed hiring decisions by predicting the behavior of an individual in your company.

Focus on Precision Using Axiology vs. Psychology in Hiring

Overall, an assessment based on axiology is more precise than attempting to use psychology to deduct how an individual from a certain category of people will behave in a role they are applying for. Using this science in hiring will help make more informed hiring decisions to build championship-level teams in your organization.

To get started, consider the ZERORISK Hiring System to measure the thinking patterns of each employee currently in your company and candidates applying for open positions. For additional support, the ZERORISK HR team is available to help you understand how to use this tool to support your hiring needs.


About the Author

Dr. Robert Smith

Dr. Robert K. Smith is the creator of the ZERORISK Hiring System, Clear Direction Management Development Program, Individual Contributor Development Program, and Clear Direction Team Directory and is a consultant for and adviser to ZERORISK HR. Known as a leader in professional development, team-building, and executive advisory services, Dr. Smith is the author of four books, including the award-winning management book Discover Your Blind Spots.


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