The quantification of people is a common means for understanding them. It is common for someone upon meeting another person of the opposite sex to give them a rating out of ten. Likewise, intelligence scores are used to evaluate people’s future potential in work and academic settings. The quantification of people represents a significant activity of the science of psychology. Personality traits (see the Big Five), self-esteem ratings, ability scores and performance measures form a large part of the topic of psychometrics. The value of these measures are often understood in terms of measures of validity and reliability.

However, when is the quantification of people beneficial and when is it detrimental?

On the positive side it aids decision making by allowing for easy comparison of individuals. For example, personality and intelligence measures are frequently used to aid selection decisions. Quantification also has the benefit of simplifying complex input of reality onto a single continuum.

On the negative side quantification of people: evaluates people on ego-sensitive attributes in a quasi objective way; makes most people feel less special because few can be number one; prevents each person from being special in their own way; introduces cold-harsh realities to areas that should be grounded in more noble conceptions; extends the forces of rationalisation too far; and decreases the pleasure from being in someone’s presence based on the awareness of their failings (i.e., prevents contentment).

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