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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Lecture Notes

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Western University
Psychology 2080A/B
Richard Brown

CHAPTER 1: Introduction What a Test is • Test: measurement device or technique used to quantify behavior or aid in understanding and prediction of behavior • A test measures only a sample of behavior, and error is always associated with a sampling process • Item: specific stimulus to which a person responds overtly – response can be scored or evaluated ○ Items are the specific questions or problems that make up a test • Psychological Test (educational test): a set of items that are designed to measure characteristics of human beings that pertain to behavior ○ OVERT behavior individual’s observable activity ○ COVERT behavior  takes place within an individual, cannot be directly observed • Scales: relate raw scores on test items to some defined theoretical or empirical distribution Why Use a Test? • Testing is a way of fighting fascism ○ Fascists treat people as interchangeable ○ Psychological testing combats fascism by demonstrating the rich variety of human qualities ○ Our interest in testing reflects the idea that individual people are important in their own right ○ We believe that the things that make individual people different from each other are interesting and worth knowing about • Empirical research depends upon data collected using tests ○ Testing is an indicator of our desire to improve the lives of our fellow human beings, and an aid to that project ○ Everything psychologists know depends upon knowledge  Knowledge comes from research, which depends upon measurement of capacities, behaviors, and attitudes, and of changes in those things in response to intervention • Testing allows us to be more productive as a society ○ Psychological testing allows us to answer questions such as:  Who can benefit from university education?  Who requires treatment for depression?  Who would be a good candidate for the job of airline pilot?  Which interventions work and which don’t? Types of Tests • Individual Tests: those that can only be given to one person at a time • Test Administrator: examiner, person giving test • Group Test: can be administered to more than one person at a time by a single examiner • Ability Tests contain items that can be scored in terms of speed, accuracy, or both ○ The faster and more accurate your responses, the better your scores are on a particular characteristic ○ Achievement – refers to previous learning ○ Aptitude – refers to the potential for learning or acquiring a specific skill ○ Intelligence – refers to a person’s general potential to solve problems, adapt to changing circumstances, think abstractly, and profit from experience ○ All 3 concepts are encompassed by the term human ability • Personality Tests are tests that measure overt and covert dispositions of individuals (the tendency that individuals will show a particular behavior or response in any given situation) – measure typical human behavior ○ Structured personality tests: provide a statement, usually of the “self- report” variety, and require the subject to choose between two or more alternative responses (ex: true or false) ○ Projective personality tests: either the stimulus (test materials) or the required response—or both—are ambiguous • Psychological testing refers to all the possible uses, applications, and underlying concepts of psychological and educational tests ○ The main use of these tests is to evaluate individual differences, or variations among individuals How Test Results are Interpreted • Objective scoring – ex: multiple choice exams, stats exams • Subjective scoring – ex: essay exams • Projective scoring – interpretation of a response to an ambiguous stimulus – examiner is a source of variability in test results Early Antecedents • Evidence suggests that the Chinese had a relatively sophisticated civil service testing program more than 4,000 years ago ○ By the Han Dynasty, use of test batteries (two or more tests used in conjunction) was quite common  Related to civil law, military affairs, agriculture, revenue, geography, etc. ○ Ming Dynasty – national multistage testing program involved local and regional testing centers equipped with special testing booths • British government adopted similar system of testing for its civil service in 1865 ○ French and German governments followed suit • 1883 – United States established the American Civil Service Commission  impetus of testing movement in the Western world grew rapidly at this time Charles Darwin & Individual Differences • No two people are alike in ability and typical behavior • Important step towards understanding individual differences: Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” ○ Higher forms of life evolved partially because of differences among individual forms of life within a species ○ Those with the best or most adaptive characteristics survive at the expense of those who are less fit ○ Survivors pass their characteristics to the next generation • Galton (relative of Darwin’s) – concentrated on demonstrating that individual differences exist in human sensory and motor functioning ○ Initiated a search for knowledge concerning human individual differences ○ Hereditary Genius ○ Individual differences exist in human sensory and motor functioning—reaction time, visual acuity, physical strength Experimental Psychology & Psychosocial Measurement • Before psychology was practiced as a science, mathematical models of the mind were developed ○ J.E. Herbart  used these models as t
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