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Psychometric testing on uk subjects

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GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended)

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
Recently the following story appeared in the Guardian newspaper;

Jobseekers' psychometric test 'is a failure'

US institute that devised questionnaire tells 'nudge' unit to stop using it as it failed to be scientifically validated

A Job Centre in Glasgow
The 'nudge' unit piloted the psychometric test in Essex despite being refused permission to do so. It has now been rolled out to other areas. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

An American psychology organisation has told a UK government agency to stop using a personality test on jobseekers because it is a failure.

The Behavioural Insight team, or "nudge" unit, which was created by David Cameron in 2010 to help people "make better choices", has been accused by the Ohio-based VIA Institute on Character of bad practice after civil servants used VIA's personality tests in pilot experiments in Essex despite being refused permission to do so.
David Halpern, head of the government's behavioural insights team Nudge unit boss David Halpern. Photograph: Felix Clay

The £520,000-a-year Cabinet Office unit run by Dr David Halpern was told by VIA – whose members devised the personality test – to stop using the questionnaire because it had failed its scientific validation.

Last week, the Guardian revealed that a single mother of two said she was threatened with having her benefits removed if she didn't complete the "my strengths" character survey. It asked users to give graded answers to questions such as "I never go out of my way to visit museums" and "I have not created anything of beauty in the last year".

Official letters sent to jobseekers by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stated that the test was "scientifically shown to find people's strengths".

Kelly Aluise, VIA's communications director, said the institute had previously been approached by a civil servant from the nudge team to use a slimmed-down version of its 120- and 240-question "character strengths" survey.

However, she said, the civil servant was refused permission by VIA's education director, Dr Ryan Niemiec.

"They were not allowed to use it," she said.

In correspondence seen by the Guardian, Niemiec said the test was a failure. "They are using the non-validated version … we had tested it a while back and it failed," Niemiec wrote.

In November 2011, the civil servant set up a 48-question version of the test for the Cabinet Office on the website to which jobseekers have been referred to complete the test, which has now been rolled out to other areas of the country.

The Guardian has been informed that complaints against the unit's use of the bogus survey have been lodged with the British Psychological Society and the Health and Care Professions Council, which regulate the practice of registered psychologists.

The DWP confirmed that qualified psychologists – understood to be from the nudge unit – had signed off the project, which was meant to boost confidence and help the unemployed back into work.

Aluise said VIA had asked the Behavioural Insight team to take down its survey and refer jobseekers to their own online version of the questionnaire.

Within hours of the Guardian contacting the Cabinet Office about the issue, the not-for-profit VIA institute, which says it is "dedicated to advancing … evidence-based practices of character strengths", declined to make further comment and said it had resolved its differences with the Behaviourial Insights team.

"Any misunderstandings that may have occurred between VIA and the Behavioural Insights team have been resolved at this point," it said.

The Cabinet Office said the nudge unit – which is being put up for sale – "has a good relationship with VIA, and they are in regular communication".

In response to questions about whether the test was validated, the Cabinet Office backed away from previous written assurances to jobseekers and said the survey was only "based on a scientifically validated questionnaire".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday, Gerry Stoker, professor of politics and governance at the University of Southampton, raised questions about the unit's ethical approval practice.

"What kind of process of ethical intervention have any of these interventions gone through?" he asked.

"When you're deceiving people or potentially … coercing people to be part of something that they don't know they are part of, I think that does raise significant issues."


1/ Why did personality tests go ahead in Essex, despite being given permission to do so?

2/ Who gave the go ahead for Psychometric tests, part of NEURO LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING, to be used on uk citizens?

3/ How would it make people make "better choices"?

4/ Who was the author of the "My Strengths" character survey that was used on claimants?

5/ What relevance were the questions in the survey, other than mind programming?

6/ Who was the civil servant from the "Nudge Team" who approached VIA to use a slimmed down version?

7/ Why was a non validated version used if the test showed it to be a failure?

8/ Show evidence to support that the test was "scientifically shown to show peoples strengths"?

9/ Have complaints of the surveys improper use been lodged with the British Psychological Society and Health and Care Professions Council?

10/ Has there been any feedback from these organisations?

11/ Who are the qualified psychologists that work for the NUDGE UNIT, who signed off the project?

12/ Why were people being deceived and coerced into something that they had no knowledge of?

13/ How much money has the DWP paid to the NUDGE UNIT?

14/ Could the £520.000 per annum cabinet office be seen as a complete waste of time and money given that it is up for sale?

Yours faithfully,


GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Correction to question one, should read,


GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Typical nasty tricks dreamt up by the psychometric unit are "THREATENING QUOTES" which are meant to "INTIMIDATE" and put pressure on the claimant by utilising fear as a major weapon to change the mindset............

One of these acts is well known to all and features in many documents issued by the DWP......

How many times have you seen this?


Bullying and frightening, another evil from the twisted workshop of BILL GUNNYEON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF THE DWP...............

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

And yet another;

paul says:
May 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm

i’m currently awaiting a date for tribunal, having been turned down in the first stage…
i’m stressed up to the limits as i had a break in benefits due to atos(small a) last april(2012) for a few months and the misery that ensued…
i have nothing else to live on and i’m beginning to feel suicidal… if they cut me off entirely.. i’ve had it…


Link to this

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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Mr Reynolds
Please see copy of your FoI request attached
DWP Freedom of Information Request Team

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DWP psych ‘test’ devised by US ‘torture guru’
21/04/2013 · by skwalker1964 · Bookmark the permalink. ·

I wrote last week about a bogus online personality ‘test’ of 48 questions that Jobcentre Plus is forcing claimants to complete on behalf of the DWP – bogus because whatever answers you select, or even if you select none at all and just click next, you get the same or very similar answers.

From further investigation, it became apparent that this ‘test’ – forced on claimants as a ‘Jobseeker Direction’ that can result in ‘sanction’ of benefits if not obeyed – is being used as a tool to manipulate and intimidate terrified benefit-claimants, with the result that many could lose benefits simply for not being computer-literate, or even literate at all. That this is being done in a context of claimants committing suicide because of the fear of losing their benefits is utterly immoral.

That series of posts has been one of the most commented-on that I’ve written – and the more information that comes out, the bleaker and more damning the picture gets. That the ‘test’ and the issues around it show a callous disregard for human welfare and even human life on the part of Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Tory front bench is hardly contestible. But there is an even more damning revelation.

The ‘test’ that the DWP ‘borrowed’, and is forcing unemployed people to take on pain of losing their benefits, was devised by a US psychologist alleged to have devised psychological-torture interrogation programmes for the US military and the CIA.

The questions the DWP has ‘borrowed’ come from the ‘Values in Action Inventory of Strengths’ test devised by Christopher Peterson and Martin ‘Marty’ Seligman. In 2001, Marty Seligman allegedly convened a ‘counter-terrorism and psychology’ meeting at his home, attended by, among others, the alleged creator of the CIA torture program, Dr. James Mitchell, and CIA Director of Behavioral Sciences Research, Kirk M. Hubbard.


Following this meeting, the CIA hired Dr Mitchell’s firm, Jessen and Associates, to devise an interrogation programme. In the same year, 2002, Kirk Hubbard invited Prof. Seligman to give a 3-hour lecture to the Navy SERE school in San Diego on his ‘learned helplessness’ concepts – a lecture attended by Mitchell, Jessen and Hubbard, and co-sponsored by the CIA.

Later the same year, the APA (American Psychological Association) amended its ethics rules to allow psychologists to ‘override’ their ethics when following orders from the CIA and the military, and the ‘enhanced interrogation’ programme – including the now-infamous ‘waterboarding’ technique and locking detainees in a ‘dog box’ – was launched.

A series of meetings, seminars and ‘workshops’ spun off from this, and an ethics ‘task force’ was launched by the APA to oversee the process – with 6 of its 10 members being psychologists employed by the CIA and military.

The results of the programme have been publicised, with journalists and even the occasional supportive politician undergoing waterboarding to see whether it’s as bad as has been claimed. As far as I know, no one has been able to bear it for very long.

In 2010, anti-corruption procurement processes were bypassed to aware a $31m, ‘no-bid’, sole-source contract to the University of Pennsylvania’s ‘Positive Psychology Center’ for training US soldiers in resistance to interrogation. The unit is directed by Prof. Seligman.

These may sound like ‘conspiracy theory’ ravings, but they are documented facts. You can read about them in a document published by the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology here.

That the DWP is threatening people with the removal of their benefits if they don’t take a test that provides meaningless answers is deeply worrying – and caused me to use the term ‘psychological torture’ to describe it.

But that the DWP and its contractors are using a test devised by a man who appears to be closely-associated with actual psychological torture by military and intelligence organisations makes the whole matter even more damning – and one that should be occupying the attention of Parliament and the media.

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()


GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended)

Dear Operations FOI Requests,
Getting worse, you answered hardly anything i asked.

Numbers 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,11,12 WERE NOT ANSWERED.

EMPHASIS MUST BE ON NUMBER ONE, "Why did the test pilot go ahead in Essex, despite not being given permission to do so?
... and number two, Who gave the go ahead?

Yours sincerely,


GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Not the nutcase MARTIN SELIGMAN who thought he could cure homosexuality and turn them into heterosexuals...

What was Seligman’s previous work?

Martin Seligman is not a stranger to controversy.

After graduating from the Princeton University in 1964 Seligman he decided to follow an academic career and went on to study for his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there as a PhD student there that he worked on using aversion to treat homosexuality. However Seligman later noted that this work was seriously flawed.

Sadly, for the DWP, this came too late.....
He disappeared over the hillside, fat cheque in hand..

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment



Dear Geoffrey Reynolds,


Please find attached DWP response to your recent review request.


Yours Sincerley


DWP Operations.

FOI Team


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