The field of psychology is one of those broad and exciting fields. Though various psychologists tend to work in a diverse array of fields one of the common aspects that they all share is that they all study behavior and associate its results to some specific measurements. Psychological tests are some of the common tests that are carried out in this field of psychology. The tests are carried and analyzed then the results are interpreted in such a way so as to attain different attributes for various individuals.
One of the interesting things is that these results may vary in accordance with various factors which may either have a positive or negative impact on the tests. These tests have found their way into a number of applications with individuals being tested to determine whether they are up to task to ascertain their levels of performance in a diverse array of fields. The term test in psychology testing is one that has to be defined first in order to determine the workability of the process and the results that should be expected.
According to a renowned psychologist Anatasi (1997) the term test as used in the field of psychology, is defined as “an objective and standardized measure of a sample of behavior”. This very definition tends to bring three core elements of psychology testing. The term objective tends to generally give the idea on how the test score is interpreted meaning that it is as a result of an objective criterion instead of subjective judgment by the examiner.
The term standardized in the definition means that the results will be uniform independent of any qualified examiner. The term sample in the definition shows us that the test is drawn from previous collected inferences and results. Most of the psychological tests are categorized into a variety of groups depending on the results and the individuals involved. These tests may be administered to an individual that is one person at a time and they are known as “individual tests” as compared to “group tests” which are administered to more that an individual.
From time in memorial various psychologists have used three main criteria’s to distinguish various abilities that individuals possess. The tests may differ in that they may be grouped as either “ability or personality tests”. A personality test is described as one that is related “to the overt and covert dispositions of the individual” (Kaplan and Saccuzzo, 2008). This means that these types of tests will generally measure an individual’s typical behavior. These types of tests will then be divided into two distinctive groups of either structured or objective personality tests.
The structured type of tests require the individual to choose from a variety of two options such as “true” and “false” or “yes” and “no”. Objective personality tests on the other hand are more complicated in that an individual is required to provide spontaneous responses. This type of testing generally assumes that the individual will tend to produce unique characteristics. The main concept behind these tests is actually to evaluate differences or variations that various individuals may exhibit.
One of the assumptions that these tests tend to be pegged upon is that the resultants are actually the real differences among individuals. With this it can then be said that the most important aspect of testing is to generally differentiate among those individuals taking the tests (Domino and Domino, 2006). The three, aptitude, achievement and intelligence are used to determine the types of tests to be performed so as to determine their degree in an individual.
Achievement in contrast to aptitude refers to previous learning while aptitude refers to the potential that an individual inhibits to do more. Intelligence on the other hand is distinguished from both achievement and aptitude in the sense that it refers to the general potential an individual has to “solve problems, adapt to environments and profit from experience”. The three however are believed to be interrelated in one way or another and a term that has been coined up to describe this situation is the term “human ability” (Kaufman and Kaufman, 2004).
Two of these tests; achievement and aptitude tests have found their way in educational and most of the times employment institutions where they are used to deduce an individual’s ability. These tests are used to determine how much an individual knows about a certain aspects such as calculations, spellings or masterly of certain material objects such as practices and the like. Intelligence tests on the other hand try to measure an individual’s ability to basically understand the world and its environment analyze its functionality and use the acquired knowledge to improve the quality of the individual’s life.
A renowned psychologist by the name Alfred Whitehead (1929) describes intelligence as having the potential to “enables the individual to profit by error without being slaughtered by it”. However the measurement of this ability has come under close scrutiny with critics arguing that most tests do not provide clear cut results or fail out rightly. The field of psychological testing is mainly governed by two major principles that is; validity and reliability.
The term validity as it used in this field means that the tests and results are useful in whatever the reason they are carried on. On more technical terms the term can be said to represent the degree in which “certain inferences or interpretations” can be considered to be appropriate (Kaplan and Saccuzzo, 2008). Reliability on the other hand refers to the degree in which the tests and results obtained are free from errors. It refers to the accuracy, consistency, dependability of the test results.
Although the concept of psychological testing is becoming an important phenomenon in today’s modern world, controversies have in some cases dogged the otherwise noble idea. One of the aspects that come into play is that most of the tests are usually administered by counselors and if the training is not adequate then the validity and reliability of the tests may be somehow substandard. The issue of ethics also comes into play and when monetary aspects are considered then the issue of ethics may just be thrown out of the window.
This is especially true considering the number of individuals especially in the internet who purport to be offering an array of tests which their authenticity does not weigh the balance. Some social and theoretical issues have arisen with the fragile issue of race finding its path to those who vehemently criticize this process. However since nothing will ever be perfect, a compromise is often reached whereby the positives of this process outweigh the disadvantages and thus the process is preferred and applied in many institutions.