Portrait of Dr Anna Brown

Dr Anna Brown

Reader in Psychological Methods and Statistics
Deputy Head of School


Dr Anna Brown is a psychometrician with an established reputation and extensive industry experience. Currently she is teaching psychological methods and conducting research in psychometrics at the School of Psychology. Previously, Anna taught short courses in applied psychometrics at the University of Cambridge, where she also conducted research focusing on modelling response biases in questionnaire data. Anna's industry experiences included research and test development at the research division of the UK largest occupational test publisher, SHL Group, where she had worked as Principal Research Statistician for many years. 

Anna holds an MSc degree in Mathematics with distinction and a PhD in Psychology with distinction. Anna's PhD research led to the development of the Thurstonian IRT model described as a breakthrough in scoring of forced-choice questionnaires, and received the 'Best Dissertation' award from the Psychometric Society. Applications of this methodology include the development of an IRT-scored version of Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32r).  

Research interests

Anna’s research focuses on psychological measurement and psychometric testing, particularly issues in test validity and test fairness. She uses latent variable models including Multidimensional Item Response Theory (MIRT) to model responses to typical performance tests including ipsative questionnaires, and to model response biases in self-report measures and in feedback reports to individuals and organisations.

Key publications

  • Brown, A. & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2018). Ordinal Factor Analysis of Graded-Preference Questionnaire Data. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 25(4), 516-529. DOI: 10.1080/10705511.2017.1392247
  • Brown, A. (2016). Item Response Models for Forced-Choice Questionnaires: A Common Framework. Psychometrika, 81(1), 135–160. DOI: 10.1007/s11336-014-9434-9
  • Brown, A. & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2013). How IRT can solve problems of ipsative data in forced-choice questionnaires. Psychological Methods, 18(1), 36-52. DOI: 10.1037/a0030641
  • Brown, A. & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2011). Item response modeling of forced-choice questionnaires. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 71(3), 460-502. DOI: 10.1177/0013164410375112


Past research students

  • Dr Yin Lin PhD Psychology (2020) ESRC funded: Asking the right questions: Increasing fairness and accuracy of personality assessments with Computerised Adaptive Testing
  • Dr Ana Carla Crispim PhD Psychology (2018). Self-funded: Exploring the validity evidence of core affect

Anna welcomes contact from potential Doctoral students interested in modern psychometric modelling (structural equation modelling, questionnaire design, latent trait modelling, and similar).


Anna is happy to supervise final year and MSc projects related to:

  1. Faking and impression management in high stakes assessments, for example: situational and personal characteristics linked to applicant ‘faking good’ on employment tests; or patient ‘faking bad’ on diagnostic tests for access to treatments; etc.
  2. Unmotivated response biases and their impact on test validity, for example: acquiescence, leniency/severity, halo/horn effects etc.
  3. Measurement of individuals differences, for example: factorial structure of personality constructs, equivalence of measurement models across groups, etc. 


Anna is an elected member of the Council of the International Test Commission, chairing its Research and Guidelines Committee. She has served as a reviewer for many journals in the area of psychological measurement, and is a member of the editorial Board of the International Journal of Testing, and a member of the advisory council to the Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science (AMPPS) journal.

Grants and Awards

2015Alzheimer's Society 
"C-DEMQOL – Measurement of quality of life in family carers of people with dementia: development of a new instrument for evaluation"
2014Department of Health 
"Systematic Review of the Psychometric Properties of ASQ (ASQ-SE)"
2014ESRC CASE Studentship 
“Asking the right questions: Increasing fairness and accuracy of personality assessments with Computerised Adaptive Testing”
2011The Psychometric Society Dissertation Award (best dissertation) 
2010-2011The Isaac Newton Trust grant
“Modern Psychometrics: theoretical and empirical contributions using item response models”: over two financial years 
2010Dissertation support award from Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology$1,000
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