A new way to assess cognitive ability, with the DESIGMA®-A

By Hogrefe Ltd’s Principal Psychologist, Liz Hey

Over 100 years ago, Spearman published his paper “General Intelligence, Objectively Determined and Measured”[i] and introduced the world to the concept of a ‘g’ or ‘General’ factor of intelligence. This is regarded as a turning point and the first time that cognitive ability was accepted as a construct.

Cognitive ability or intelligence testing has been hailed “as the most practical contribution made to humanity by all of psychology”.[ii] Cognitive ability testing predicts a diverse range of behaviours and outcomes including academic achievement, job occupation, economic prosperity and health. It is also a robust and reliable predictor of work performance.[iii]

As changes in demographics emerge in many developed societies (age differences, diversity) and global economic trends in assessment (cross-cultural assessment, internet and games-based testing), cognitive ability tests are among the most powerful tools available to occupational psychologists, HR professionals and managers.[iv]

The DESIGMA®-A measures the understanding of structural rules in problem-solving, with the use of figural matrices, as with tests such as Raven’s. The uniqueness of the DESIGMA®-A  test lies in its innovative response format in which the answers must be assembled from simple building blocks. This removes the possibility of guessing the answer by a process of elimination, a possibility which is present with other, distractor-based tests.

The DESIGMA®-A test can be used in selection and recruitment in both occupational and educational settings, to identify high potential individuals, irrespective of language or culture.

The DESIGMA®-A test is available only as a digital test and as such ensures objectivity in scoring and in interpretation. It was first published in Germany in 2014 and has since been published in five other European countries. It will be available on HTS5 later this summer as an English translation, with UK norms.

Contact us to ask about availability or click here for more information.




[i] Spearman, C. (1904). General Intelligence, Objectively Determined and Measured, American Journal of Psychology, Vol 15(2), 201-293.

[ii] Roberts, R. D., Markham, P. M., Matthews, G., & Zeidner, M. (2004). Assessing Intelligence In Handbook of Understanding and Measuring Intelligence (p. 333). Wilhelm, O. & Engle, R. W. (Eds.) SAGE Publications.

[iii] Ones, D. S., Viswesvaran, C., &  Dilchert, S (2017) Cognitive Ability in Personnel Selection Decisions in A. Eveers, N. Anderson and O. Voskuijl (Eds) The Blackwell Handbook of Personnel Selection. (Chapter 7). Blackwell.

[iv] Dilchert, S. (2018). Cognitive ability. In D. S. Ones, N. Anderson, C. Viswesvaran, & H. K. Sinangil (Eds.) The SAGE handbook of industrial, work & organizational psychology: Personnel psychology and employee performance (p. 248–276). Sage Reference.

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