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Knoxville – A test designed by industrial psychologists at the University of Tennessee might help employers avoid workplace violence.

Dr. Michael McIntyre said the 22-question test is able to predict aggression in potential employees.

“Traditional personality tests in this area have relied on self-description, which is notoriously ineffective,” McIntyre said. “We-ve developed a system that involves reasoning problems, which are a much better predictor of behavior than self-descriptions.”

McIntyre developed the test with Dr. Larry James, his collaborator and mentor in the UT College of Business.

The test looks for signs of negative aggression like hostility, which might cause harm to others, McIntyre said.

Workplace violence claimed the lives of seven co-workers at a Massachusetts Internet consulting company in late December. Michael McDermott, 42, is accused of entering the offices at Edgewater Technology with a weapon and opening fire before being captured by police.

McIntyre said if the aggression test had been available to the public, it might have prevented such violence.

“This guy was exactly the type of person the test was designed to identify,” McIntyre said, “He may not have exhibited any warning signs of behavioral trouble, so the company could have benefited from this test.”

The James-McIntyre aggression test goes on sale in January.