Introduction to Psychological Testing

10 October 2016

Testing gives us identity and meaning to an unknown territory of human thought and behavior. Testing makes it easier to make an assessment on individuals and their unique imprint in a timely manner. Testing also gives an examiner a clear picture of many characteristics of human thought and behavior. Tests are usually used in organizational and research settings.

However they can be used in helping an individual learn more about himself or herself as well as for entertainment. Reliability and validity are the basic elements that give strength and credibility to any tests. This is because without reliability and validity tests would simply be a fascination and no more reliable than a common anecdote. The following paragraphs will further define test as well as identify the major categories of tests. The following paragraphs will also explain the users and uses of these tests as well as the major assumptions and fundamental questions of tests.

Introduction to Psychological Testing Essay Example

The final paragraph will further explain reliability and validity and how these concepts affect the field of psychological testing. Defining “test” The development of the word test comes from the late 14th century old French word for a small vessel used in assaying precious metals (Harper, 2010). Later record show the meaning of tests as a trail or examination to determine the correctness of something (Harper, 2010). Test can also be defined as an evaluation device or procedure in which a sample of an individual’s behavior in a certain domain is obtained and evaluated using a standardized process (Hogan, 2007).

However, the basic definition of the word test is a systematic and standardized quantification procedure or device that yields information about a behavior or cognitive process, and measure a sample of an individual’s behavior rather than an extensive variety of an individual’s behavior. Major Categories of tests There are five major categories of tests. These categories of tests are mental ability, achievement, personality, interests and attitudes, and neuropsychological tests. Mental ability tests measure cognitive functions such as intelligence, memory, spatial visualization and creative thinking (Hogan, 2007).

Some examples of mental ability tests are Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Otis-Lemon School Ability Test (OLSAT) and SATs. Achievement tests assess capabilities of an individual in certain areas of expertise (Hogan, 2007). These tests may include the areas of reading, math, science, and social studies, as well as help identify a more specific achievement. Some examples of achievement tests are Stanford Achievement Tests, Metropolitan Achievement tests, and Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.

Personality tests are designed to produce information about personality and are the most widely applied to all psychological tests (Hogan, 2007). Personality tests compare an individual’s responses to different clinical groups for similarity and may measure certain mental disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and pathological and disabling conditions as well as fascinations of the human personality. Some examples of personality tests include Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI).

Interest and attitude tests may include vocational interest measures which are used in many high schools and colleges. Interests and attitudes tests also measure an individual’s attitude toward a specific topic or group (Hogan, 2007). Some examples of interests and attitude tests are Strong Interest Inventory (SII), and Kuder Career Search (KCS). Neuropsychological tests are designed to give information about brain function and the nervous system. These tests are also used to assess brain functions, which may include tests for verbal and figural material, psychomotor coordination, and abstract thinking (Hogan, 2007).

Some example of neuropsychological tests are Rorschach test or Rorschach Inkblot Tests, and Halstead Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery. Primary Users and Uses of Tests There are four primary uses for tests. These primary uses or categories are educational, personnel, clinical, and research. In a clinical setting, tests are used in counseling, school psychology, and neuropsychology to identify the nature and severity of specific problems, and may be used to assess progress or gauge the effectiveness of a therapeutic applications (Hogan, 2007).

The primary users in a clinical setting include psychologists, neuropsychologists and counselors. In the educational setting, tests are used to assess a student’s learning, to document competence for professional licensure and to predict success in academic work (Hogan, 2007). The primary users in an educational setting are teachers, educational administrators, and parents. In a personnel or employment setting, tests are used in organizations for selecting the most qualified individual for a specific position, or to assign an individual to a tasks that optimize efficiency.

Testing is also used for performance evaluations during employment (Spector, 2008). The primary users in the category are businesses and the military. In a research setting, tests are used to define the dependent variable or the reliable baseline by which further testing is measured. Tests in a research setting are used to describe important characteristics of samples used in research or in researching standard or newly designed tests (Hogan, 2010). Major Assumptions and Fundamental Questions The use of tests in psychology require several assumptions that are fundamental to the advent and implantation of any psychological measure.

The first is that the examiner needs to assume that all individuals have recognizable traits and characteristics (Hogan, 2007). Second the examiner needs to assume that these traits and characteristics can be quantified. The third is that the examiner needs to assume that these traits and characteristics are reasonably stable. Finally the examiner needs to assume that the measure of traits and characteristics relate to actual behavior (Hogan, 2007). There are also several fundamental questions that we need to take a look at.

The first fundamental question relates to the reliability, which refers to the stability of the test scores. The second fundamental question relates to the validity, which refers what is the test is actually measuring (Hogan, 2007). The fourth question related to the norms, which refers to how we interpret scores. The final question relation to practical issues, such as how much does the test cost (Hogan, 2007). The following paragraph will examine two of these fundamental questions. Reliability and Validity Reliability and validity are the most important concepts in testing.

The concept of validity refers to whether a tests measures what it is intended to measure, whereas reliability refers to the consistency of the measurement (Hogan, 2007). These two concepts give psychological tests, as well as, many other tests their value. A psychological tests can be reliable without having validity. However, a psychological tests cannot be valid if it is not reliable. Reliability and validity are the cornerstone that gives strength to tests. When tests are both reliable and valid they have the ability to yield information useable for scientific investigation and application (Rapaport, 1945).

Psychology as well as many other scientific disciplines depend on testing as a fundamental part of scientific investigation and therapeutic application. Conclusion Testing provides a practical and efficient way to gather information, especially in the field of psychology. The major categories of tests supply valuable information to many types of users in psychology as well as a variety of other disciplines. Psychology as well as many other fields depend on the concepts of reliability and validity to define norms, validate scientific exploration, assess mental states, facilitate learning, and to determine future needs.

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