Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications and Issues
Chapter 1: Introduction
•WHAT A TEST IS?
oTest: is a measurement device or technique used to quantify behavior or aid
in the understanding and prediction of behavior.
E.g. spelling test; measures how well someone spells or the extent to
which someone has learned to spell a specific list of words
oTest measures only a sample of behavior and error is always associated with
a sampling process.
oTest scores are not perfect measures of a behavior or characteristic, but they
do add significantly to the prediction process.
oItem: is a specific stimulus to which a person responds overtly; this response
can be scored or evaluated ( e.g. classified, graded on a scale, or counted)
In simple terms, items are the specific questions or problems that
make up a test.
oPsychological Testing: (educational test) is a set of items that are designed
to measure characteristics of human beings that pertain to behavior.
There are many types of behavior:
•Overt Behavior- is an individual’s observable activity.
•Covert Behavior- it takes place within an individual and
cannot be directly observed. (e.g. feelings and thoughts)
Psychological and educational tests measure past or current behavior;
some also attempt to predict future behavior.
oThe scoring of tests can change dramatically depending on how a well-defined
sample of individuals scores on a test.
To deal with such problems of interpretation, psychologists make use
of scales- which relate raw scores on test items to some defined
theoretical or empirical distribution
oScores on a test may be related to traits, which are enduring characteristics
or tendencies to respond in a certain manner.
oTest scores may also be related to the state, or the specific condition or status,
of an individual
•TYPES OF TEST
oIndividual Tests: those that can be given to only one person at a time
The examiner or test administrator (the person giving the test) gives
the test to only one person at a time, the same way that
psychotherapists see only one person at a time.
oGroup Test: can be administered to more than one person at a time by a
single examiner. (E.g. an instructor gives everyone in the class a test at the
oOne can also categorize tests according to the type of behavior they measure
Ability tests contain items that can be scored in terms of speed,
accuracy, or both. ( related to capacity and potential)
Historically, experts have distinguished among achievement, aptitude,
and intelligence as different types of ability.
•Achievement: refers to previous learning
•Aptitude: refers to the potential for learning or acquiring a
•Intelligence: refers to a person’s general potential to solve
problems, adapt to changing circumstances, think abstractly,
and profit from experience.
oAll three are highly interrelated
•In view of the considerable overlap of achievement, aptitude,
and intelligence tests, all three concepts are encompassed by
Human Ability- behaviors that reflects either what a person
has learned or the person’s capacity to emit a specific behavior
•Personality Tests: are related to the overt and covert
dispositions of the individual (measures typical behavior)
oFor example, the tendency of a person to show a
particular behavior or response in a given situation.
•There are several types of personality tests:
•Structured Personality Tests: provide a statement, usually
of the “self-report” variety, and require the subject to choose
between two or more alternative responses such as “True” or
•Projective Personality Test: either the stimulus (test
materials) or the required response-or both- are ambiguous
oE.g. Rorschach test- is asked to provide a spontaneous
oProjective tests assume that a person’s interpretation of
an ambiguous stimulus will reflect his or her unique
•Psychological testing: refers to all the possible uses,
applications, and underlying concepts of psychological and
oMain use of these tests is to evaluate individual
differences or variations among individuals.
Evidence suggests that the Chinese had a relatively sophisticated civil
service testing program more than 4000 years ago.
Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E to 220 C.E.)
•The use of test batteries (two or more tests used in
conjunction) was quite common.
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 C.E.)
•A national multistage testing program involved local and
regional testing centers equipped with special testing booths.
The Western world most likely learned about testing programs
through the Chinese.
1832- British missionaries and diplomats encouraged the English East
India Company to copy the Chinese system as a method of selecting
employees for overseas duty.
1855- The British government adopted a similar system of testing for
its civil service after the testing programs worked well for the
•The French and German government followed suit.
1833- The U.S. government established the American Civil Service
Commission, which developed and administered competitive
examinations for certain government jobs.
oCHARLES DARWIN AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
No two people are exactly alike in ability and typical behavior
An important step toward understanding individual differences came
with the publication of Charles Darwin’s highly influential book, The
Origin of Species, in 1859.
Basic concepts: what a test is, test: is a measurement device or technique used to quantify behavior or aid in the understanding and prediction of behavior. In simple terms, items are the specific questions or problems that make up a test: psychological testing: (educational test) is a set of items that are designed to measure characteristics of human beings that pertain to behavior. there are many types of behavior: overt behavior- is an individual"s observable activity, covert behavior- it takes place within an individual and cannot be directly observed. (e. g. feelings and thoughts) psychological and educational tests measure past or current behavior; some also attempt to predict future behavior: the scoring of tests can change dramatically depending on how a well-defined sample of individuals scores on a test. ability tests contain items that can be scored in terms of speed, accuracy, or both. ( related to capacity and potential)