History of Psychological Assessment Tools

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This paper delves into the rich history of psychological assessment tools in America, examining their various types that are currently employed. Furthermore, the validity of these assessment tools will be investigated. Psychological assessment is a complex process that integrates data from multiple sources including personality tests, intelligence tests, and personal interviews.

Psychologists often conduct assessments to provide care to their clients. Simple checklists may be used to assess certain traits or systems. However, psychological assessments are more intricate and thorough (Parkinson, 1997). These assessments typically give specific diagnoses for treatment, depending on the situation. They can be used in various settings such as schools to address areas of functioning or disability, in courts to resolve custody battles or trials, or by employers to evaluate job applicants or employees and offer career development training.

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The field of psychometrics involves measuring behavior, which is not just a part-time activity but also a full-time occupation for both individuals and corporations (Thomas, 1977). There are numerous test publishing houses that employ many professionals dedicated to constantly improving assessment tools. Today, there are thousands of aptitude, achievement, personality, interest, and other specialized tests available, in contrast to the few that existed fifty or sixty years ago (Madius, 1999).

Throughout the 20th century, various significant tests have been conducted. Examples include the Army Alpha Beta test, Spearman’s Factors in Intelligence, the Woodworth Personal data sheet, and the Otis Absolute Point Scale (Jones, 2006) during the years 1900-1909. In the following decade, the Rorschach Ink Blot Test, Strong Vocational Interest Blank Test, and Clark’s Aptitude Testing emerged in 1920-1929. The period of 1930-1939 also witnessed notable tests.

From 1940 to 1949, Thurstones’s Primary Mental Abilities, Kuder Preference Scale Record, Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test, and Piaget’s Ongoing Intelligence were significant psychological tests. In the following decade (1950-1959), the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Weschsler Intelligence Scale for Children, and Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale gained prominence. Moving on to the 1960s (1960-1969), Guilford’s the Nature of Human Intelligence, the National Defense Education Act, and Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives were influential in this field. During the 1970s (1970-1979), important tests included the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Weschsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence, Kuder Occupational Interest Survey, and Cattell’s Theory of Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence.

The subsequent decade (1980-1989) saw advancements such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Peabody Picture Test, Use of Computers in Testing, and System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment. From 1990 to 2000 emerged Thorndike Hagen and Stattler’s revision of Stanford Binet test along with Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children and Test in Print III.

Eventually came Stanford Binet V Wide Range Achievement Test (3rd Edition), Weschsler Adult Intelligence Scale III during this timeframe as well as Early Mathematics Diagnostic Assessment by Jones in 2006. These psychological tests collectively offer valuable insights into how long individuals have been tested within our society.

Testing, in its various forms, has been used for about a century to meet the needs of individuals, including children. The 20th century saw significant growth in testing, particularly during World War I and World War II. These tests, which included both individual and group evaluations, played a crucial role in determining individuals’ suitability for specific positions (Jones, 2006). Psychologists use psychological assessments to evaluate and analyze information provided by individuals. This information can be communicated through interview responses, written answers, or computerized questionnaires (Chou, 2000).

Psychological tests come in various types, including achievement and aptitude tests, typically administered in educational or employment contexts. These tests assess an individual’s knowledge and mastery of subjects like reading, spelling, and mechanical skills. Additionally, intelligence tests evaluate one’s fundamental capacity to comprehend the surrounding world and utilize this understanding to improve their quality of life.

According to Howard Gardner, the aim is for my children to comprehend the world, not only because it’s intriguing and the human mind is curious, but also so that they can contribute towards making it a better place. While knowledge is distinct from morality, understanding is crucial for avoiding past mistakes and moving towards progress. A vital aspect of this understanding is knowing ourselves and our capabilities. Ultimately, we must synthesize our understanding personally. The actions we undertake as imperfect human beings in the world have a significant impact, whether positive or negative (Gardner, 1999). Following this statement, Gardner developed the concept of seven multiple intelligences: linguistic intelligence which involves spoken or written language, logical mathematical intelligence encompassing various math operations, musical intelligence linked to appreciation for music, bodily kinesthetic intelligence utilizing the entire body, spatial intelligence recognizing patterns of space, interpersonal intelligence involving collaboration with others, and intrapersonal intelligence understanding oneself (Gardner, 1999).

The following psychological test utilized is the Neuropsychological tests, which aim to assess cognitive functioning difficulties arising from brain damage or other nervous system-related illnesses. Additionally, Occupational tests are administered to match individuals with suitable careers. Among the assessment tools employed is the Minnesota Importance questionnaire, which gauges an individual’s vocational needs, values, and interests. This questionnaire is designed to be user-friendly.

Administered by a vocational psychologist, the Minnesota Importance Questionnaire is a psychological test that can be utilized in vocational planning, job placement, and career planning. Another type of psychological test commonly employed is the Personality tests, which assess an individual’s fundamental personality style and are frequently used in research or forensic settings for clinical diagnosis. Two of the most famous personality tests are the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Rorschach Ink blot test. The MMPI-2 comprises numerous closed-ended questions.

The Rorschach consists of multiple cards that require individuals to describe the images and emotions they perceive in them (Edberg, 2005). These personality tests can be either objective, employing an ordinal rating scale, or projective, allowing for free-form responses. Specific Clinical tests are another type of psychological assessment that focuses on measuring specific clinical issues like depression or current anxiety levels (Edberg, 2005). The primary purposes of psychological tests or assessments are to gather information that may not be obtained through a clinical interview.

People often find it difficult to discuss their problems and tend to deny any issues in their lives. Conducting a clinical interview may not yield helpful results. Additionally, information gathered from tests is more reliable compared to the information obtained from a clinical interview. Another advantage is that it is more challenging to deceive or fabricate stories during tests as they often have multiple cues that detect lies. However, in tests like the Rorschach Inkblot Test, any response is considered acceptable (Parkinson, 1997).

Psychological tests face a fundamental issue in measuring their intended constructs accurately, known as validity. Construct validity pertains to a test’s capacity to generate results consistent with other tests of the same construct and distinguishable from tests of different constructs. Content validity concerns a test’s ability to encompass a diverse array of elements relevant to a specific construct. Criterion-related validity entails predicting an individual’s performance on a given task or measure (Parkinson, 1997).

Psychological assessments must be reliable, meaning they should yield consistent results. Additionally, a test needs to be both reliable and valid. Two types of reliability measures exist: internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Internal consistency evaluates the relationship between test items, while test-retest reliability examines how well results from one test align with those from a later similar test. However, complete validity and reliability in psychological tests are unachievable due to the intricacy of the human mind; it is impossible to fully comprehend it with certainty.

Despite extensive testing, uncertainty can persist in a case, making psychological tests not a quick solution. These tests are developed using sound scientific principles and can provide both validity and reliability. However, they often only offer an impressionistic evaluation of an individual. It is important to note that all well-established psychological tests widely used in the United States have been developed and standardized in English (Parkinson, 1997).

Although it may appear insignificant, it is crucial to acknowledge the potential challenges that may arise when testing individuals who are not fluent in English. Translating the test into another language can present difficulties as accurately translating English words with multiple meanings or conveying English idioms without altering the sentence structure entirely may not be feasible. Consequently, this could compromise the validity of the test (Thomas, 1977). Therefore, individuals undergoing a psychological test should be mindful of their rights.

Consumers have the right to receive information about the purpose, names, rationales, and results of tests used, as well as provide a signed release for others to share the results. According to Beutler, Groth-Marnat, and Rosner (2003), referrals for psychological assessments often include six common information requests. These requests aim to determine the client’s current behavioral pattern, identify the causes of these behaviors, anticipate changes over time, and suggest methods for behavior change.

When writing a psychological report, it is important to address the client’s liabilities or shortcomings as well as their strengths and resources. The answers to these questions will greatly influence the client’s treatment. Interviews and psychological reports are essential in people’s lives. It is crucial for psychologists to use the most suitable tests and avoid making overly generalized characterizations or using brief phrases in their reports. Providing concrete and specific examples of the client’s actual behaviors is always recommended to illustrate specific points (Brenner, 2003).

The therapist’s job is made easier by the bond of trust between the interviewer and client. Client relationships are crucial in determining the success of any intervention (Martin, Garske, & Davis, 2000). Throughout history, alternative assessment has been used as a form of psychological assessment to enhance teacher instruction and student learning. Completing alternative assessment activities allows students to showcase their skills in reasoning, analyzing, and evaluating historical evidence.

Historical facts and themes are explored through thoughtful questioning, showcasing a student’s reasoning skills. Reasoning gives significance to the facts and themes, leading to a greater comprehension of the subjects. Critical thinking is an essential component of reasoning, as it necessitates students to identify connections between facts and generalizations, values, in order to find solutions, make sound judgments, or draw logical conclusions (Snyder, 2006). Alternative assessment is a valuable instrument utilized by psychologists in assessing children.

Individual psychological assessment has been a professional practice in personnel psychology for over 50 years, especially in the selection of senior management, professional, and sales staff. Corporations extensively used individual psychological assessment during the 1950s and 1960s, where they played a crucial role in the decision of hiring or not hiring (Thomas, 1977). However, in the late 1960s and 1970s, the assessment center’s method gained more popularity than individual assessment for identifying managerial and sales talent.

Psychological assessment for individuals has evolved significantly over time. Nowadays, it serves multiple purposes and is not limited to selection only. The assessment process is influenced by the context in which it is conducted. It goes beyond traditional methods such as interviews, mental abilities tests, projective tests, and personality inventories. This advancement in individual psychological assessment is noteworthy and was once seen as an intriguing concept and a way to broaden horizons for psychologists (Thomas, 1977).

The process of individual assessment differs from traditional personnel selection in that it typically incorporates psychological measures and unstructured interviews, and often integrates various data. Rather than focusing on specific abilities or traits, individual assessment is seen as an artistic approach rather than a scientific one (Thomas, 1977). In the early days of psychological assessment, paper and pencil tests were commonly used.

Presented in a variety of forms, the simplest and most economical device is the paper and pencil test. Over the past fifty years, these tests have evolved from traditional exams to sophisticated multiple choice tests. Multiple choice items allow for quick and objective assessment of subject knowledge in various areas, and also provide a means for responding to personality, interest, and special ability inquiries. A skilled administrator carefully designs and adheres to guidelines when administering these tests.

The instructions for administering a well-designed assessment tool may include specific details such as seating arrangements and how to handle issues that may arise during the test. It is important to find a setting that is of appropriate size and free from distractions. Before making any changes to a psychological assessment, permission must be obtained from the publisher to maintain the test’s validity. Psychological assessment tools have been used in American society since World War I and II when soldiers were evaluated for war. These tests have been updated and changed over time, but they continue to be valuable tools used by psychologists today.

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History of Psychological Assessment Tools. (2017, Mar 28). Retrieved from


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