Venture Corner: Pymetrics Uses Neuroscience to Assess Personality
WHO: are we? We are Pymetrics. We have developed a new, neuroscience-based tool to perform a better assessment of people. It is like the Myers-Briggs for the 21st century: it is based on neuroscience rather than psychology. The tool will tell you two things: 1. Your cognitive and emotional strengths and weaknesses, and 2. What people with similar strengths and weaknesses do professionally.
HOW: did we come up with this idea? Over the last two decades, neuroscience has revolutionized our understanding of people and their brains. Neuroscientists have developed ways of assessing important cognitive and personality traits in people, and algorithms to accurately predict their performance. This technology has transformed medicine and made inroads in marketing. We are applying it to career development.
We don’t ask you to answer questions about yourself. Instead, we ask you to play 20 short (2-3 minute) games on the computer. Most people find these games entertaining. These games tell us about your cognitive and emotional strengths and weaknesses. These games are actually more accurate than questionnaires because they are free of self-report bias.
WHY: did we start Pymetrics? Julie and I met as postdoctoral fellows over the Keurig machine in the MIT Brain & Cognitive Sciences lab. We both have PhDs in a sub field of neuroscience. For close to a decade, we both worked in labs scanning people’s brains while they played computer games in the scanner. In fact, these games were designed to activate certain neural networks and test certain cognitive or emotional traits while scientists scanned their brains. We loved understanding people better, but we wanted to do something more exciting, dynamic and applied.
WHAT: is the Brain Stamp Project? We are trying to get as many ECs as possible to take our test before they leave campus. Why? Think of it as leaving a brain stamp in a time capsule. We will use this data to understand what makes smart HBS MBAs tick, what makes them different from MBAs at other schools, and if we can determine based on a brain stamp what career path people are best suited for. Anyone who does the Brain Stamp project will get an individualized report, just as they would with the MBTI.
In addition, we are teaming up with alumni reps and class presidents to give back to HBS. For whichever section contributes the most brain stamps, we will contribute $20-35 per head to the section’s class gift. So if Section D has 70 people take it, and they win (which of course they will… go D!), we will put $1,400 in Section D’s alumni gift pool. Don’t ask how we have the money; we can assure you that it was legal.