Conative Bias in the SAT?

Education Testing Service, the company that publishes the SAT exam had asked me to do a presentation for its test development team. They said they’d been trying to develop a test based on conation for many years and had not figured out how to do it. The guy who invited me explained that they hoped I would share with their professional team how I had created the Kolbe Index.

 My favorite way of demonstrating the predictive validity of the Kolbe Index is to do Glop Shop, a three minute activity during which three people I’ve never met create a hands-on solution for a problem with no right answer. I provide a challenge, a bag of assorted junk they must use to achieve the goal, and when they are out of the room, give predictions for their actions, reactions and interactions during the exercise.

 I selected the top SAT developer to participate because of his surprising MO: insistent Follow Thru and Implementor, resistant Fact Finder and Quick Start. Less than a minute into the activity he showed a strong bent toward the opposite MO.

Totally trusting my instincts, I stopped the activity (only time I have ever done that), and asked him:

“Why did you cheat when you took the Kolbe Index?”

Caught by surprise he blurted out:

“Because I wanted to see what would happen if I answered in the most socially undesirable way possible.”

 I asked why he had such a strong bias against a perfectly wonderful conative strength – and wondered aloud what impact that might have on his work on the SAT.

Only a few people in the room seemed incensed by his lack of truthfulness in filling out the Kolbe Index questions and demographic information (he said he was a female, for instance).  Aghast that one test developer would be so disrespectful of another’s data, I no longer felt comfortable sharing my work with those in the room. I ended my presentation.

Studies we then did, using data provided by universities,  showed there is a difference in SAT scores by modes of conative insistence on the Kolbe Index. People who were insistent in Follow Thru and Implementor did not receive as high scores on the SAT as people who were  insistent in Fact Finder and Quick Start. Since there is no correlation between IQ and Kolbe Index results,  my instincts tell me that the SAT has a conative bias. The very one expressed by its then lead developer.

After your comments, please add to our databank the following information (or email for confidentiality):

Your:        Kolbe MO  ________       SAT score _______   ______      GPA in college ______      

Thanks:  Kathy        


Filed under Education

9 responses to “Conative Bias in the SAT?

  1. Hey Kathy,

    Well done in responding the way that you did. Any time I’ve had to make a tough decision like that, trusting my conative instincts has served me well. This spring I walked away from a third of a million dollar opportunity in the Carribean, in the middle of the biggest recession we’ve ever known. The work simply wasn’t the right fit for me, my conative capabilities, or my unique abilities.

    I felt better – I suspect you did too!



    • Kathy Kolbe

      Congratulations, Steve, on having such a strong sense of purpose. I suspect neither of us will ever regret doing what we did in these situations.

      Kolbe turns down at least 20% of our potential business for similar reasons. I believe it’s one of the reasons we’ve been in business over three decades.

      Thanks for sharing,


  2. Derek Heck

    Ahh that Glob Shop will catch them almost every time.

    I truly hope we can get to the people that are responsible for the education of our children with conation. I just think of the amazing things that we are capable of when we can work in our MO.

    Still got a long road ahead breaking down the “Old Guard”.

  3. Ashley

    That’s awesome that you were able to call him out on it, and sad that he would lie to you like that. Here’s some data from a grad student at Cal State Northridge for your study. I would also be willing to share my GRE score if you need it!

    Kolbe MO: 4384
    SAT score: Math- 560 Verbal- 610
    College GPA: 3.9

  4. Hi Kathy,

    Sorry I’m a little late on responding to your message! I think you’re moving in the right direction with your hypothesis about conative bias in the SAT. Here is my information:

    Kolbe MO: 9632
    SAT score: 1260 total
    (don’t recall the math/verbal split, but I can probably find it if you must have it)
    GPA in college: 3.86

    • Hi Kathy,

      Just boning up on my Kolbe wisdom and saw this older posting/request.

      Here is my info:

      Kolbe MO: 8642

      SAT score: Math 560, Verbal 510 (w/o verbal subscores of reading and vocabulary- separately)

      GPA in College: 3.35

      I would love to schedule a time to catch up and brainstorm prior to my trip to AZ next month.

      So much to share….


  5. Laima

    Hi Kathy,

    I’m a new convert to Kolbe / conation, and just saw this post today.

    Kolbe MO: 3-1-10-6
    SAT, verbal 740; math 680
    college gpa: 3.86

    Best regards.

  6. mywalletmarketcom

    Now there are a lot of sources online. ISEE Test, SSAT Test Score Test Prep. Anxiety, Test Taking, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, BAR, MCLEX, ASVAB, ASWB, NCE, Praxis, Counselor Exam, Engineering Exam, Engineer Exam, Social Work Exam, and more… The students are very lucky. Because of many sources can be easily.

  7. Erin Werde and Steve Lear thank you for taking the risk and for sharing this experience. It inspires us to pursue our clients to integrate conation into their lives with the inevitable goal of creating joy.

    Erin 7832 Steve 3691

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