Definition of a test
In the field of psychology, a test refers to a highly standardized process that examines the sensual ability and mental processes of an individual (Rogers, 2007). According to experts, a test does not examine every aspect of an individual. It uses certain elements of an individual’s character as a sample to get the information needed. Due to their objective nature, every test should produce efficient and reliable results. This means that all the methodologies used to collect and analyze data in a test should strictly focus on the element being examined for quality purposes (Coaley, 2009).
Major categories of tests, their major uses, and users
Studies have established that psychological tests are divided into five major categories. The five categories are mental ability tests, achievement tests, behavior tests, interest and attitude tests, as well as neuropsychological tests (Rogers, 2007). Mental ability tests are used to examine cognitive abilities of an individual. These abilities include brainpower, recollection, spatial hallucination, as well as creative and critical thinking (Foxcroft, 2009). Achievement tests are used to examine the ability of an individual to succeed in a specific field of expertise. These tests are commonly used in organizations during the selection and recruitment process. Some of the abilities examined include reading, writing, speech, language, and science among others (Foxcroft, 2009).
Behavior tests are used to examine an individual’s personality traits under different settings. The taster focuses on identifying similarities and differences in personality when someone experiences varied environments. One of the common aspects examined using these kind of tests includes emotional stability and eating disorders (Coaley, 2009). Interest and attitude tests are used to examine things than an individual has a natural liking for and the kind of response one would have if they get introduced to something new. This many include a new activity, a group of people, thought process, or topics (Foxcroft, 2009). These tests are commonly used in learning institutions.
Neuropsychological tests are applied in measuring sensitivity and mental ability of an individual (Coaley, 2009). These tests involve assessing the effectiveness of the brain and nervous system to control crucial functions such as speech, writing, thinking, and vision among others (Rogers, 2007). Psychological tests are used by four main primary users. First, clinical officers use them in treating conditions such as depression. Second, they are used in learning institutions by teachers to assess the development of their students (Coaley, 2009). Third, they are used by employers in personnel development and in the recruitment process. Fourth, tests are used in research to examine the behavior of identifiable variable as per the field of study.
Comparing and contrasting reliability with validity
According to experts, reliability is the ability of data to remain stable and authentic throughout a test. It entails the ability of these two aspects to remain consistent (Foxcroft, 2009). In order to achieve reliability, it is important to ensure the accuracy of data used, especially in cases where a test is administered more than once. On the other hand, validity refers to the ability of a test to examine the intended elements by having the right data (Foxcroft, 2009). This means that there is no room for deviation because it’s only the elements intended for examination that are important. One of the common features of reliability and validity is the ability to give meaning and value to a test. According to experts, these two variables are dependent of each other, thus both have to be there for a test to be viable. Studies have established that a study can be reliable but lack validity (Rogers, 2007). However, it is not possible for a test to be valid if the data collected lacks reliability.
Effects of reliability and validity on the field of psychological testing
Studies have established that reliability and validity are the most important elements of a test. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that every test achieves the two properties. Reliability has great effect on tests in terms of creating room for flexibility. The accuracy and dependability of test results make a test to have more than one uses (Coaley, 2009). On the other hand, validity affects tests in terms of its strictness and effectiveness of data. Experts argue that the validity of data collected from an individual can be used to study the performance of the sample population. This is crucial in increasing the scope of the study during tests (Foxcroft, 2009).
Major assumptions and fundamental questions
Psychological tests help people to gain knowledge of and identify with human behavior in a better way. First, it is assumed that every test is independent and specific (Rogers, 2007). This assumption is highly dependent on the concept of validity. Second, it is assumed that results in a test and the behavior of the individual examined are constant variables. This means that one should expect to get the same results when an individual is tested for the same variable at different times and under different conditions (Rogers, 2007). Third, it is assumed that the participants in a test comprehend all the elements involved at the same level. Fourth, it is assumed that individuals examined in a test have a good degree of personal awareness and give reliable information all the time (Rogers, 2007). There are two fundamental questions associated with psychological tests. The first one is whether individuals examined are honest when expressing their feelings and giving personal details. The second one is whether the results of an individual can be used to effectively predict the behavior of the sample population (Foxcroft, 2009).
Coaley, K. (2009). An Introduction to Psychological Assessment and Psychometrics. New York: SAGE.
Foxcroft, C. (2009). Introduction to Psychological Assessment. London: Oxford University Press.
Rogers, T.B. (2007). The Psychological Testing Enterprise: An Introduction. New Jersey: Brooks.