Q&A with Chris Dewberry, author of the DASA

We recently sat down with Dr Chris Dewberry, author of our new occupational test, the Decision-making and Self-regulation Assessor (DASA). Dr Dewberry is a Senior Lecturer in organizational psychology at Birkbeck, University of London. His research interests include decision-making, self-regulation, and factors influencing the assessment of human performance. Aware of major developments in theory and research on decision-making and self-regulation over the last few decades, and of the absence of commercially available psychometric tests in this area, Dr Dewberry developed the DASA over an eight-year period. Watch the full interview with Chris, available now on our YouTube channel.

Thanks for joining us today to discuss the DASA. The Decision-making and Self-regulation Assessor is a nice self-explanatory name for this new measure. But can you tell us why you think it's needed?

There are a lot of tests of cognitive ability and personality available, and a lot of them are very good indeed. But there are no tests available right now specifically focusing on self-regulation and on decision-making, and these are two areas, I think, that have been developed in the research literature in psychology to a considerable degree over the last 20 years or so. There are real opportunities for using this new knowledge psychometrically and giving people an insight into the extent to which they're self-regulating in a positive way, and also making quality decisions.

Who is the DASA aimed at?

It's aimed at anybody who is interested in decision-making and self-regulation, which I guess is most people, really. Specifically in an organisational context. People involved in HR management generally, coaches, people who are developing staff. This is an area in which I believe there are a lot of opportunities for trainers, and the DASA could be used as a vehicle to help organisations and individuals to develop their decision-making and self-regulation to a considerable degree.

Can you tell us how the DASA works, and what the theory is behind it?

The DASA is a self-report instrument, so people are presented with a series of statements to which they respond, and an overall score is computed for the various scales in the DASA based on those responses. In relation to the theory on which it is based, it comes from a number of different strands: theory research on decision-making, which is taking place in the cognitive psychology literature and looks at things like the way people use two different sorts of thought or decision processes to make decisions. It also looks at the extent to which people avoid decisions, procrastinate, depend on others to make decisions.

The other thing it focuses on is theories of self-regulation, which again have only come in the last 20 years or so to prominence. Self-regulation is a very important capacity. It focuses on people's ability to control their impulses, to pay attention, to be self-disciplined and to focus on the things they really need to focus on. It also includes things like the extent to which people are concerned with seeking rewards, benefits, or are more concerned with protecting themselves against potential threats, and the amount of cognitive effort and mental resources they put into those different aspects of life.

What value would the DASA add to a selection process - and, in addition, a development process?

In relation to selection, I think the extent to which people are competent in their decision-making is important for just about any job. For example, the tendency to put decisions off. The tendency to think decisions through consciously. These dimensions are really important for job performance, and therefore are very relevant for selection. They're the sort of things that an interviewer could, after an interviewee has taken the DASA, probe in depth to find out more about their responses.

In relation to development, the exciting thing about the DASA is that it's possible to improve the way that people make decisions, and improve the way that people self-regulate, by drawing people's attention to the nature of their decision-making styles and their self-regulatory styles and capacity, and suggesting to them ways that they can improve these things.

How do you think the DASA would complement a personality assessment, such as the NEO, or an ability assessment, such as the Ravens?

I think the DASA complements ability tests and personality questionnaires very well indeed. The NEO is particularly useful as a personality questionnaire because it's developed to measure the Big Five, which we now know underpin the structure of personality. But the DASA offers something different. It's not about ability, and it's not about personality - it's about psychological processes rather than stable dimensions. It's about things that people can control, rather than things that they're just born with or that they've learnt. Therefore it provides a really useful piece of complementary information to that provided by ability test, and by tests of personality.

What level of training is required to use the DASA?

We require people to have Level A training, now known as Test User Occupational-Ability, and also I think it's essential for people to attend a training session on the DASA, a conversion course, because the theory and assumptions underpinning this instrument are really very different than those underpinning cognitive ability tests and personality questionnaires. Without a thorough understanding of this new perspective on psychometrics, people cannot really understand how best to use the tool, and may well make mistakes in applying it. The DASA training is run regularly throughout the year by Hogrefe.

Thanks Chris!

To enquire about purchasing the DASA, or to find out when the next DASA training course will be held, please contact us at customersupport@hogrefe.co.uk.

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