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Psychological testing is the answer to many questions humans have about a manifold of issues. Testing will give a better view onto a problem, helps to solve issues, and reliably displays an array of information needed in everyday life. To dip a bit deeper into psychological testing the following text will attempt to graze upon some fundamental aspects of psychological testing, such as the major assumptions and fundamental questions, the definition of the term test, the categories of tests, and reliability and validity of tests. Major Assumptions and Fundamental Questions
In order to use tests there have to be assumptions to be made. These assumptions will clarify if tests are an important and useful tool in the measurement of human aspects. There are four major assumptions that need to be reckoned with. The assumptions are that people 1) have different traits and characteristics, which are 2) measurable, and 3) stable over time, and 4) that these traits and characteristics are part of people’s behavior (Hogan, 2007).
The fundamental questions concerning tests include reliability and validity of the tests, which will be covered later in this text. Other questions are concerned about the interpretation of tests and the use of norms to yield correct interpretations (Hogan, 2007). Norms are the results of these tests, which had been administered to a large group of people (Hogan, 2007). Questions of how a test has been developed and which practical issues are at hand for a certain test will determine how reliable and valid a test may be (Hogan, 2007). Definition of the Term Test
For the definition of the term test according to Hogan (2007) there are six elements that combined will give an understanding of the term test. It has been concluded that a test is a process or a device to measure a particular aspect. Next, it is concluded that the processes or devices will produce some kind of information. This information is comprised of information about behavior or cognitive processes. Furthermore, the information of behavior or cognitive processes can only be a sample of behaviors a human can display. The next element of what constitute a test is that the test has to be standardized in terms of administration, norms, and the test itself. Last, a test has to be quantifiable, put in terms of numbers (Hogan, 2007). Categories of Tests
These tests can be divided into categories of tests. Even though tests may cover topics from more than one category, the grouping of tests will show the magnitude of tests (Hogan, 2007). The categories include mental ability tests, achievement tests, personality tests, tests to identify interests and attitudes, and neuropsychological tests. Mental Ability Tests
This category of tests deals mostly with the testing of intelligence, such as memory, spatial abilities, or creative thinking (Hogan, 2007). The tests within this group or category can be further divided into sub-groups. The three sub-groups are 1) individually administered intelligence tests, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, 2) group administered intelligence tests, such as the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) or the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), 3) other ability tests (Hogan, 2007). Achievement Tests
The group of achievement tests have been developed to test knowledge and skill in specific areas (Hogan, 2007). The sub-groupings here are 1) battery tests used in elementary and secondary schools, such as the Stanford Achievement Test, 2) single subject tests, such as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), 3) certification and licensing tests for nursing, teaching and other professions, 4) government sponsored achievement testing programs, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), 5) individually administered achievement tests, which are used to test for learning disabilities (Hogan, 2007).
This group of tests has been developed to gain knowledge and discover certain aspects of human personality (Hogan, 2007). The sub-groups here are 1) objective personality tests, so-called because these tests are objectively scored, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) or the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), 2) projective techniques, which are developed to pinpoint aspects of personality, such as the Rorschach Inkblot Test, 3) other approaches, which are a large group of tests and measurements of human personality (Hogan, 2007). Interests and Attitudes
This category is comprised of tests that measure interests and attitudes (Hogan, 2007). The first sub-group includes vocational interest measures, which are developed to determine interests for certain jobs, such as the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) or the Kuder Career Search (KCS). The other sub-group explores the multitude of attitudes toward certain subjects and topics (Hogan, 2007). Neuropsychological Tests
These tests may be tests borrowed from the other categories, but their purpose is to evaluate brain functions (Hogan, 2007). Uses and Users of Tests
It can be determined that the uses of tests can be grouped into four different settings, such as in a clinical setting, educational setting, personnel setting, and in a research setting (Hogan, 2007). The users in a clinical setting may be a counselor, a clinical, school or other psychologist to determine issues of clients (Hogan, 2007). The users in the educational setting may be school counselors or school psychologists. Their primary concern is that of achievement and abilities (Hogan, 2007). In the personnel setting human resource offices are users of tests to determine qualifications of applicants for a certain job (Hogan, 2007). In a research setting, the uses are manifold and the users are the researchers in a particular field of interest (Hogan, 2007). Concepts of Reliability and Validity
Reliability as used as a technical term includes the following characteristics: in order to be reliable, a test has to consistently score the same or nearly the same for one person, to be reliable a test has to be replicable, and to be a reliable test it has to be dependable (Hogan, 2007). Validity on the other hand measures how well a test measures what is to be tested. It can be said that a test can be reliable without being valid. A test can consistently score the same for one person, it may be replicable, and it may be dependable, but these aspects do not reveal if the test actually tests its purpose (Hogan, 2007). The Affect of Reliability and Validity on the Field of Psychological Testing
Reliability and validity play a major role in psychological testing. Both concepts need to be closely guarded, as testing results are dependent on how reliable and valid tests are. Only reliable and valid test results will give answers to common and uncommon issues and problems in the field of psychological testing.
Psychological testing is a vast topic and includes many aspects and concepts. The text uncovered only a fraction of what psychological testing is all about. It attempted to present some basic aspects and elements of psychological testing. Amongst other things, it covered the definition of the term test and presented the categories of tests. Last, it compared and contrasted reliability and validity in the field of psychological testing.
Hogan, T. P. (2007). Psychological Testing: A Practical Introduction (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.