Mind Games: Psychological Assessments in Player Evaluation

Despite the use of psychological assessment tools in professional sports (e.g., Wonderlic Personnel Test at the NFL Combine), there is no evidence to support their use in predicting any meaningful aspects of individual or team performance. The failure of psychological instruments to predict performance reflects outdated assumptions about intelligence and personality. These traditional assumptions in psychology require immediate attention and revision if professional sports teams want to increase their chances of winning by using innovative approaches to player evaluation and selection. Thus, the primary purpose of this talk is twofold: (1) To present the reasons why some assessment tools consistently fail to predict player performance and (2) To discuss the ways in which appropriate psychological assessments can be leveraged at the professional level to predict important success factors such as adaptability, communication, teamwork, leadership, and effort. Evidence is reviewed from basic and applied research in physiology, personality, social, and industrial/organizational psychology.

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