Guidelines for Ethical Use of Tests and Questionnaires

Adherence to ethical standards in using any psychometric instrument is important to protect and preserve respondents' rights, as well as the integrity of the instrument. Registered Users of OPP's psychometric instruments are expected to achieve high standards in administering and interpreting the instruments, and in protecting the relevant copyright and trade marks. Registered Users who can be shown to have contravened the guidelines set out below may be refused access to any further OPP Restricted Materials, and they may be asked to return any Materials in their possession.

We respectfully remind Registered Users of questionnaires of obligations that form part of an assessment procedure. These are:

  • To follow the administration, scoring and interpretation instructions contained in the manual of the instrument concerned, to ensure that tests and questionnaires are properly used 
  • To ensure that no unqualified person is allowed to administer, score or interpret psychometric instruments 
  • To keep psychometric tests and questionnaires in a safe place to prevent unqualified use and other abuses 
  • To tell respondents how long data (eg results) will be kept on file, and indicate to whom and under what circumstances data will or will not be released 
  • To take reasonable steps to keep individuals' results confidential, only divulging them to someone other than the respondent when there is legitimate cause and with the respondent's full knowledge 
  • To observe all applicable laws on the protection of personal data 
  • When communicating results, to ensure that their implications are clear to the recipient, and to explain the limitations of the psychometric instruments in any report 
  • To use their best efforts to see that the respondent receives adequate information about the theory on which the test or scales are based and appropriate feedback on his or her results, preferably in a face-to-face setting 
  • Never to contravene copyright law by photocopying, computerising or adapting any part of a test or indicator, proprietary scoring system or its profile form 
  • To take corrective action where bad practice or breach of copyright or infringement of trade mark is evident in their organisation 
  • To review results regularly, including the outcome of decisions taken on them, and to pay attention to differences between groups, in particular those of a different race, gender, ethnic background or who are disabled

Purchases of certain of OPP’s tests and questionnaires, including Restricted Materials (as defined within OPP’s Terms of Business for Purchase of Product) must be made by or on behalf of an identified Registered User who is qualified to use the Restricted Materials and has registered with OPP in accordance with its registration procedures.

In order to be registered to purchase and use certain of our Restricted Materials, a user must have successfully completed appropriate training details of which are set out at www.opp.com, from time to time. These include, without limitation: (i) in relation to the MBTI and FIRO-B instruments, individuals must first undertake an OPP approved programme of psychometric test training, through an OPP approved training provider; (ii) in relation to the CPI 260 tool, individuals must first take an OPP approved programme of psychometric test training, through an OPP approved training provider, unless you hold a Masters degree in Occupational Psychology or Psychology respectively in which case you may be eligible for OPP’s applicable psychologist access policy; and  (iii) in relation to the  Strong Interest Inventory, ABLE Series and Saville Aptitude Tests individuals hold the relevant BPS Test User, or other applicable, qualification.

In addition, all Registered Users shall be required, in using OPP's Restricted Materials and Materials to verify any local requirements and/or restrictions on using psychometric tests in general and the Restricted Materials and Materials in particular, in that jurisdiction, whether imposed by law, regulation or by a local regulatory or governmental body. Where any local requirements and/or restrictions exist that alter the criteria for, or prevent, use of Restricted Materials or Materials within a particular jurisdiction, it shall be the responsibility of the Registered User to ensure that it fully complies with any and all such local requirements and/or restrictions. Where any individual or entity uses Restricted Materials or Materials in a particular jurisdiction in contravention of any local requirements and/or restrictions, whether knowingly or inadvertently, such individual or entity shall be solely responsible and liable for such use and shall hold harmless and indemnify the OPP Group in respect of any loss or claim by a third party against OPP arising from such. Further, in the event that a Registered User has failed to ensure that any Restricted Materials or Materials may be legitimately used within a particular jurisdiction and subsequently purchases Restricted Materials or Materials for use in that jurisdiction, such Registered User shall be liable for the costs thereof and the OPP Group shall bear no responsibility or liability for return of such Restricted Materials or Materials or the reimbursement of any associated costs.

Where a Registered User moves to a new employer or a new section of their existing employer, and is unable to take with him or her any Restricted Materials in his or her possession, it is the Registered User's responsibility to ensure that the Materials are not left in the care of an unqualified person. It may be possible, for instance, to pass them on to a colleague who is registered with OPP and is qualified to use the relevant Restricted Materials. In the event that there are no known qualified individuals registered with OPP to whom the Restricted Materials may be entrusted, Registered Users may wish to contact OPP's Client Support Team to discuss possible return for credit of resaleable unopened packs of current Materials.


Further information on some of the issues raised above is given in the appendices that follow.

Appendices to Guidelines for ethical use of tests and questionnaires

Appendix I - Additional guidelines for the ethical use of the MBTI instrument

Commitment to the constructive use of individual differences

  • MBTI practitioners are committed to using the MBTI instrument to support the self-awareness and development of individuals and teams. The MBTI instrument should never be used to assess ability or to restrict or limit an individual's options.

Administration and dissemination of results

  • The taking of the MBTI questionnaire should always be voluntary. Administration should preferably be done face to face, but postal administration is permissible, as is administration by e-assessment. Feedback of the MBTI results should always be provided in a full and complete manner. Feedback may be provided in group or individual settings, but should always include asking the respondents to self-assess their type and helping them verify their best-fit type. It is not sufficient to provide feedback of reported type alone, such as by sending an electronically generated report through the mail.
  • The MBTI type of an individual should never be revealed to others without the express consent of that individual.

Interpretation of results

MBTI preferences should always describe the preferences and types in positive and constructive terms, avoiding type bias and stereotyping.

MBTI preference scores should not be interpreted as traits and should always be referred to in terms of indicating the clarity with which the individual has reported their preference.

Respondents should be informed that psychological type theory reflects an individual's preferences, and not abilities, intelligence or likelihood of success. Therefore, it is not appropriate to use the MBTI instrument in selecting people for jobs or assignments.

Every individual is the best judge of his or her own type.

Appendix II - Feedback and use of data (including research)

This section gives guidance for appropriate feedback in the following scenarios:

  • Using a type indicator, trait measure, other personality inventory, or ability test 
  • Development applications 
  • Recruitment applications, specifically: 
    • Select-out (often an early stage of the selection process where candidates identified as less suitable for a role are deselected from the process) 
    • Select-in (usually a final stage of a selection process, when one or more candidates have been identified as someone to whom a role may be offered)
  • Research
The level of feedback that OPP recommends differs according to two key factors:
  • The nature of the psychometric instrument 
    • Type indicators (specifically the MBTI instrument) require detailed person-to-person feedback 
    • Trait measures and ability tests can be used to inform decision making without the need to review the results with the candidate (provided that appropriate attention is paid to technical or interpretative issues such as Standard Error of Measurement); however, meaningful feedback (at a minimum in written form) should be offered for trait measures and ability tests in accordance with BPS guidelines 
    • Some instruments (eg the TKI questionnaire) are self-scored and incorporate feedback information which the candidate can read for themselves
  • The application in which the instrument is used 
    • All development applications require person-to-person feedback 
    • 'Select-in' situations require person-to-person feedback 
    • In 'select-out' situations (eg large scale sifting), feedback should be offered, but may not always be taken up by the candidate. Feedback in select-out situations would be given sufficiently by computer-generated narrative reports for individual candidates
Therefore in practice this means:
  • The MBTI instrument will always require person-to-person feedback because it is a type indicator, and because it is only used in development. The feedback session is necessary to develop understanding, allow questions to be addressed and to explore and establish an individual's best-fit type.

The following guidelines apply to all instruments:

Feedback in research projects

The requirements for giving feedback on individual results to respondents may be waived where data are being gathered for research purposes only. Respondents should be told beforehand that they will not receive feedback. However, researchers are encouraged to provide feedback if an individual requests it.
If the questionnaire or test is being used in a research context such as to establish its reliability or validity, the experimental nature of its use should be clearly communicated to respondents

Development and promotion

Questionnaire or test data acquired within an organisational context should not be used to determine an individual's career development or promotion, unless it is supported by independent data such as a work progress record or peer review

Candidate consent for data use

Data acquired for one purpose, eg team building, should not be used for another purpose without the respondent's specific knowledge and consent.

Appendix III - Proper use of trade marks

OPP produces many Materials under exclusive licence. OPP asks that its trade marks and those of its suppliers be acknowledged. It also offers the following practical advice about the legal protection of trade marks:

  • The TM symbol represents a trade mark, while the ® symbol represents a trade mark legally registered in a particular country or countries.
  • The appropriate symbol (TM or ®) should appear by the first reference to the trade mark within any document, or in the first place where it is used prominently.
  • A footnote legend, indicating the ownership of the trade mark, should be put at the bottom of the page or at the end of the text or document. It is normal to use small print for the footnote.
  • If it is not possible to reproduce the TM or ® symbol, use an asterisk after the trade mark and to precede the footnote legend.
  • The trade marks should always be used as adjectives (for example, the phrasing "The MBTI® questionnaire is used for team building" must be used, not "The MBTI® is used for team building").
  • Note that the terms "MBTI®" and "Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®" are both registered trade marks. If they are both used within a document, then the ® symbol should appear by the first reference to each. These trade marks are registered with respect to software, printed matter and the training of people in psychological tests.
  • This advice applies particularly to consultants referring to trade marks within their proposals, client reports, promotional literature or advertising.

Appendix IV - Copyright

General
Breach of copyright is theft of property and no aspect of OPP's copyright or the copyright of its licensors should be infringed.

It is an infringement of copyright to make a copy of any test or questionnaire component. The reproduction of the following materials by any means is an offence, whether or not the reproduced materials are sold:

  • Manuals and related texts 
  • Question booklets and all questionnaire items, whether singly or in a group 
  • Answer sheets 
  • Client report or feedback forms 
  • Profile charts as they appear on report forms 
  • Score keys/patterns of answers 
  • Software programs and accompanying documentation 
  • Training materials
(This list is not intended to be exhaustive.)

A publisher's copyrights are its most valuable property. Copyright protects authors' creative effort and the integrity of its materials. Any infringement of copyright severely affects the ability of publishers to produce materials economically. Moreover, in the case of psychometric instruments, illegal copying of materials leads to poor control of their use, gives respondents a bad impression, and can even disadvantage them. The resulting loss of income reduces the funding available for research and development of new instruments, and leads to poorer updating services.

Note that psychometric test materials are specifically excluded from all UK Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) photocopy licensing schemes.

Computer software

It is also illegal to incorporate any of the components listed above into computer software used for the administration, scoring and interpretation of a questionnaire or test. The profile chart as it appears on published forms is also a copyright work, and it may not be used in a computer presentation system - even one that simply generates reports when data (scores) are input into a computer.

Purchasers who use generic "shell systems" should note that the responsibility for installing a particular instrument on the system rests with the user, not the supplier of the system. The user is in breach of copyright if permission from the publisher has not been obtained. In the case of many of OPP's instruments, such as the MBTI, CPI, FIRO-B and Strong Interest Inventory instruments, it is not the publisher's policy to give permission for such use. Some shell systems contain representations of the whole or part of profile sheets. These have been incorporated without permission and are illegal.