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Dr. Roger Birkman (born Roger W. Birkman 1 February 1919) is an American organizational psychologist. He is noted as creator of the Birkman Method, a personality and occupational assessment management tool that is non-judgmental and emphasizes personal strengths. He is founder and Chairman of the Board of Birkman International, Inc., and for more than 60 years has consulted with organizations and individuals in the area of behavioral assessment and understanding.
Early Life and CareerEdit
Birkman received a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston before enlisting in the United States Army Air Corps. He flew bomber missions in Europe. He returned to the University of Houston to earn a master's degree, then received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Texas-Austin in 1961. He had begun his exploration of individual differences while serving as a pilot and a pilot instructor during the war. His experience with the impact of visual and interpersonal misperceptions on pilot performance and student learning abilities led him to the study of psychology. He developed his foundation for the Birkman Method in the late 1940s while working with a group of scientists at the University of Texas surveying potentially useful psychological instruments for pilot selection by the Air Force.
Birkman believed he could create a testing instrument that would measure social expectations, self-concepts, interests, and stress behavior in a single assessment tool that would be useful to both organizations and individuals. By 1951 he had developed his original “Test of Social Comprehension” and had begun Birkman & Associates (1951) as the vehicle by which he could refine the statistical reliability of his test by bringing it to a wide range of organizations. Throughout this testing process Birkman developed his testing instrument as a self-report questionnaire eliciting responses about perception of self, social context and occupational opportunities. He developed measurement scales empirically by comparing self-report item results with descriptions of likes, dislikes and behaviors provided by third parties.
The test itself was thus created, not from existing psychological theory, but through exhaustive empirical research conducted in the workplace. Birkman was interested in application rather than academic study. The Birkman Method took its final form as the centerpiece of his 1961 doctoral dissertation, where he asserted: “When I was first introduced to existing knowledge in the field of psychological tests and measurement while doing undergraduate work at the University of Houston, the potential contribution which could be made to education, business and industry captured my imagination and has absorbed much of my thought and effort since.”
The Birkman MethodEdit
The Birkman Method is an integrated assessment and report system that analyzes and describes individual needs that drive and motivate workplace behavior. When needs (defined as the expectations one has about how relationships and situations should occur) are met, they drive behavior in positive and productive directions. Unmet needs create potentially negative and less-than-productive behavior. The Birkman Method integrates needs measurements to assess the occupational interests that shape career and job role fit. As a result, it does not describe an individual in a vacuum but rather in the complex, dynamic reality of the workplace. The unique construction and comparative database of the Birkman Method provides powerful insight into what specifically drives a person’s behavior, creating greater choice and more self-responsibility. It accurately measures social behaviors, underlying expectations of interpersonal and task actions, potential stress reactions to unmet expectations, occupational preferences and organizational strengths.
Since its introduction more than 50 years ago, the Birkman Method has been used by more than two million people and 5,000 organizations worldwide, including corporations, not-for-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and individuals in their hiring, retention, motivational and organizational development activities. It has been verified by extensive reliability and validity studies, including recent studies using both Classical test theory (CTT) and Item Response Theory (IRT).
At age 90, Birkman remains actively involved in the field of psychology and in continuing to refine and expand the use of the Birkman Method. He has written two books to popularize its understanding and application: True Colors: Get to Know Yourself and Others Better with the Highly Acclaimed Birkman Method (1995) and A Man of Understanding. The Story of Roger Birkman and the Birkman Method (2002). In addition to his ongoing business and testing activities, he is certified as a Licensed Psychologist in the State of Texas and is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Southwestern Psychological Association, Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology, and the Texas Psychological Association.
- True Colors: Get to Know Yourself and Others Better with the Highly Acclaimed Birkman Method, published in 1995 (ISBN 0-78-527856-7).
- A Man of Understanding: The Story of Roger Birkman and the Birkman Method, published in 2002 (ASIN B0018E5AJS).
- Birkman, R. (1995). True Colors. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 0-78-527856-7.
- Birkman, R. (2002). A Man of Understanding: The Story of Roger Birkman and the Birkman Method. Houston 2002. ASIN B0018E5AJS.
- Birkman, R., Elizondo, F., Lee, L. G., Wadlington, P. W., Zamzow, M. (2008). The Birkman Method Manual. Birkman International Inc. ISBN 978-0-9817099-0-1.
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