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Chapter 1

Chapter One- Introduction

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Western University
Psychology 2080A/B
Hayden Woodley

2080A Psychology Chapter One: Introduction • test such as LSAT and GRE most difficult modern psychological tests in modern world success depends greatly on test results • • Tests can have international significance: 15 year old children in 32 nations given Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD( and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) • measures mathematical literacy and scientific literacy Basic Concepts What a Test Is • Test: Measurement device or technique used to quantify behaviour or aid in the understanding and prediction of behaviour • Test will measure only a sample of behaviour and error is always associated with a sampling process • Test scores are not perfect measures of a behaviour or characteristic but they do add significantly to the prediction process Item: Specific stimulus to which a person responds overtly: this response can be • scored or evaluated • Because psychological and educational tests are made of items, the data they produce are explicit and hence subject to scientific inquiry • Example: Items are the specific questions or problems that make up a test Overt response will be filled in as A,B,C,D holes • • A Psychological Test or Education Test: is a set of items that are designed to measure characteristics of human beings that pertain to behaviour • Many types of behaviour: • Overt Behaviour: is an individuals observable activity example: how many times a person engages, “omits” a behaviour • Covert: takes place within the individual and cannot be directly observed (feelings and thoughts) • therefore psychological tests measure past and current behaviour and predict future behaviour • The meaning of scores changes dramatically depending on how a well a well-defined group of individuals scored on the test • Use Scales: Relate raw scores on test items to some defined theoretical or empirical distribution • scores on a test may be related to traits (enduring characteristics or tendencies to respond in a specific manner) (shyness/determination) • can also be related to states Types of Tests: Individual Tests- Can be given to only one person at a time (one on one) Group Test- can be administered to more than one person at a time by a single examiner (exams) I. Ability Tests: Contain items that can be scored in terms of speed, accuracy or both - the faster and more accurate your answers the higher score you get A. Achievement Test: refers to previous learning - Example: test that measures or evaluates how many words you can spell correctly B. Aptitude Test: Refers to potential for learning or acquiring a specific skill given a certain amount of training, education and experience -example: how well you can play piano given a certain number C. Intelligence Test: Person’s general potential to solve problems, adapt to changing circumstances, think abstractly and profit from experience Achievement, Aptitude and Intelligence tests make up Human Ability • II. Personality Tests: Related to overt and covert dispositions of the individual • measure typical behaviour A. Structured Personality Test: Provide a statement, usually of the “self-report” variety and require subject to choose between two or more alternative responses “True” “False” • Example: I like heavy metal ----> True or False B. Projective Personality Test: Either the stimulus or the required response-or both are ambiguous Example: Rorschach Test: stimulus would be the inkblot • • asked to provide a spontaneous response rather than an option already listed • assume that a person’s interpretation of an ambiguous stimulus will reflect his or her unique characteristics Psychological Testing: Refers to all the possible uses, applications and underlying concepts of psychological and educational tests • main use of tests is to evaluate individual differences or variations among individuals • measure differences in ability and personality and assume that differences shown on the test reflect actual differences among individuals most important purpose of testing is to differentiate among those taking the test • Textbook will touch on Principles of Psychological Testing, Applications and Issues of Psychological Testing Historical Perspective Early Antecedents • most of the major developments in testing have occurred over the last century, many in the US China • Evidence suggests that the Chinese had a relatively sophisticated civil service testing program more than 4000 years ago • every third year in China oral examinations were given to help determine work evaluations and promotion decisions • By the Han Dynasty the use of Test Batteries (two or more tests used in conjunction) was quite common • included diverse topics of civil law, military affairs, agriculture, revenue and geography Western World Tests were well developed by the Ming Dynasty • • during this time a national multistage testing program was involved local and regional testing equipped with special testing booths • those who did well at the local level went on to the provincial capitals for more extensive essay exams then those who did well went on to the national capitol for the final round • • then those that passed this third round were eligible for public office • Thought that Westerners learned about testing programs thought the Chinese • encouraged the British East India Company in 1832 to copy the Chinese system as a method of selecting employees for oversee duty • because they worked well for the company the government decided to adopt a similar system for testing its civil service in 1855 • the French and German government soon followed • In 1883 the US government established the American Civil Service Commission: developed and administered competitive examinations for certain government jobs • The impetus of the testing movement in the Western world grew rapidly at that time Charles Darwin and Individual Differences perhaps the most basic concept underlying psychological and educational testing • pertains to individual differences (no two snowflakes the exact same) • an important step toward understanding individual differences came with the publication of Charles Darwin’s highly influential book “The Origin of Species” in 1859 • According to Darwin's theory higher forms of life formed partially because of differences among individual forms of life within a species • some possess more adaptive characteristics in some environments than others do • those with the best or most adaptive characteristics survive at the expense of those who are less fit and that the survivors pass their characteristics to the next generation • through this process he argues life has evolved to its currently complex and intelligent levels • Sir Francis Galton, a relative of Darwin’s soon began applying Darwin’s theories to human beings • set out to show that some people possessed characteristics that made them more fit than others, he called this Hereditary Genius- published in 1869 • In 1883: He began a series of experimental studies to document the validity of his position • He concentrated on demonstrating that individual differences exist in human sensory and motor functioning, such as reaction time, visual acuity, and physical strength • In doing so Galton initiated a search for knowledge concerning human individual differences which is now one of the most important domains of scientific psychology Galton’s work was extended by the US psychologist James McKeen Cattell who • coined the term Mental Test Experimental Psychology and Psychophysical Measurement • A second major foundation of testing can be found in experimental psychology and early attempts to unlock the mysteries of human consciousness through the scientific method • before psychology was practiced as science, mathematical models of the mind were developed, in particular those of J.E. Herbart • Herbart eventually used these models as the basis for educational theories that strongly influences 19th century educational practices • Following him E.H. Weber attempted to demonstrate the existence of a psychological threshold, the minimum stimulus necessary to activate a sensory system • Then following Weber, G.T. Fechner devised the law that the strength of a sensation grows as the logarithm of the stimulus intensity Wilhelm Wundt who set up a laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879 is credited • with founding the science of psychology, following the tradition of Weber and Fechner • Wundt was succeeded by E.B Titchner who student G Whipple recruited L.L. Thurstone, E Strong and other early prominent US psychologists • From this seminar came the Carnegie Interest Inventory and later the Strong Vocational Interest Blank • Thus psychology stemmed from 2 lines of inquiry: • 1) based on the work of Darwin, Galton and Cattel on the measurement of individual differences • 2)Based on the work of the German psycho-physicists Herbart, Weber, Fechner and Wundt (more theoretically relevant and probably stronger than the first) • from this work also came the idea that testing, like an experiment, requires rigorous experimental control • such control comes from administrating tests under highly standardized conditions • the efforts of these researchers however necessary did not by themselves lead to the creation of modern psychological tests • such tests also arose in response to important needs such as classifying and identifying the mentally and emotionally handicapped • One of the earliest tests resembling current procedures, the Seguin Form Board Test was developed in an effort to educate and evaluate the mentally handicapped • Similarly Kraepelin 1912 devised a series of examinations for evaluating emotionally impaired people • An important breakthrough in the creation of modern tests came at the turn of the 20th century • The French minister of public instruction appointed a commission to study ways of identifying intellectually subnormal individuals in order to provide them with appropriate educational experiences • One member of that commission was Alfred Binet • Working in conjunction with the French physician T. Simon,Binet developed the first major general intelligence test • Binet’s early effort launched the first systematic attempt to evaluate individual differences inhuman intelligence The Evolution of Intelligence and Standardized Achievement Tests • The history and evolution of Binet’s intelligence test are instructive • The first version of the test, known as the Binet-Simon Scale was published in 1905 • contained 30 items increasing difficulty and was used to identify intellectually subnormal individuals • like all well-structured tests, it was augmented by a comparison or standardization sample standardization sample consisted on 50 children who had been given the test under • standard conditions (same instructions and format) • in obtaining this sample they had norms with which they could compare the results from any new subject • without such norms the meaning of scores would have been difficult, if not impossible to evaluate • However by knowing such things as the average number of correct responses found in the standardization sample, one could at least state whether a new subject was below or above it • the importance of obtaining a sample that is representative of the population for which a test will be used has sometimes been ignored or overlooked by test users • example: cant be all white men • further development of the Binet test involved attempts to increase the size and representativeness of the standardization sample • A Representative Sample: One that comprises individuals similar to those for whom the test is used • when a test is used for the general population, a
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