Psychological Testing, Its Ethical and Legal Issues

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 4
Words: 875
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College

Ethical issues associated with psychological testing

A major ethical issue which is associated with psychological testing is the use of informed consent. To obtain a voluntary consent to an assessment is a very crucial component of psychological testing. The client is entitled to get information concerning the purpose of testing, duration expected and whichever procedure used in psychological testing. It is also important that the client understands every aspect of giving consent (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008). Elements of informed consent include: clear and understandable presentation, giving reasons for administering the test, explaining the tests and procedures which will be used, explaining how the assessment scores will be used, and the legal person to have access to the results (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008).

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In research, formal informed consent is not yet common. For a child or a disabled client, their consent should be given by a parent or a legal guardian. The purpose of informed consent is to act as a continuing agreement between the client and the psychologist/health professional. During the testing, a client may withdraw his/her consent at any time. Therefore, an informed consent can be defined as a communication process between a health care professional and a client/patient that provide an authorization of undertaking the test.

Confidentiality of psychological report is another major ethical issue. A health professional or psychologist is not supposed to expose a client’s results outside of the suitable context (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008). Ethical codes bar a health professional from doing so. All patients’ records should be maintained securely, effectively and efficiently so that their results are not easily accessible to other parties who might have bad intentions of using such records.

The two issues are very vital in psychological testing and they impact the process of testing in one way or another. Ethical codes are supposed to be followed strictly to make the process of psychological testing effective. Every individual have a right to privacy and exposing his/her results is depriving him/her this right. This will definitely have a negative influence on psychological testing.

Legal issues associated with psychological testing

A major legal issue associated with psychological testing is discrimination and prejudice. This usually happens when some testing procedures oversteps upon the rights of an individual of a certain religion, sex, ethnicity or race (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008). By law, health professionals are not supposed to employ any selective testing that may results to unfair discrimination. Doing so is illegal and clients have the right to report any such professional to the authority so that a legal action can be taken upon his deeds.

Another legal issue which is a major concern in the US is the accommodation of individuals with disabilities. The Americans with disabilities act of 1990 states that, individuals who cannot conform to the normal test-taking procedures should be provided with the necessary accommodations (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008). Providing appropriate accommodation is essential although it should not be overdone in such a way that it favors people with disabilities and ignore others.

The two issues pose challenges to psychological testing. It is unfair and unethical to treat certain group of people less fairly than others. People should be treated fairly and equally so as to eliminate discrimination. Laws regarding the two issues should be implemented so that they can protect all citizens at large. On the other hand, psychologists should follow these laws as well as their code of ethics in order to eliminate these issues completely. If the two issues are not completely eliminated, people will not have faith in psychological testing and this field will be affected tremendously. It is therefore vital for the field of psychological testing and psychology at large to be held for highest legal fairness and level of ethics.

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The court case with the largest impact on the field of psychological testing

A case which had a great impact in the field of psychological testing is the Griggs v. Duke Power Co. This case concerned employment discrimination against Africa-Americans. This case has even influenced the amendment of the civil rights act of 1964 and became the basis of civil rights bill of 1991 (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008). Even though the civil rights act was enacted before this case, discrimination against the blacks was still there. The court ruled that the company should provide the validity of the test which they were using for selecting and promoting employees.

The court ruled in favor of the employees since the company test lacked validity. For a test to be valid there must be a proof to indicate that. This case pave way for the blacks and other minorities for fairness in job hiring and companies started hiring individual according to their qualifications not race. Promotions to hire ranks in many companies also changed and it was conducted in terms of job performance without any favor. This helped the blacks and other minorities and they started enjoying good working conditions.

Discrimination of any means is unethical and should be dealt with legally, if necessary. It infringes people’s rights and privileges as well as devaluing the constitution of the US which dictates that people should be treated equally in all sectors. All the psychologists are entitled to support and uphold the fight against discrimination.


Kaplan, R. M. & Saccuzzo, D. P. (2008). Psychological testing: principles, applications, and issues. New York: Cengage Learning.