The History of psychological assessment tools in America is a wide spread measure of testing that has historical roots. In this paper, I will examine the history of psychological assessment tools, the types of assessments being used today, and the validity of assessment tools. What is psychological assessment? Psychological assessment is a process that involves information from a series of sources, like personality tests, intelligence tests and personal interviews.
Many psychologists do some level of assessments when providing care to clients, and may use simple check lists to assess some traits or systems; however, psychological assessments are more complex and detailed (Parkinson, 1997). Typically, psychological assessments provide certain diagnosis for treatment depending on the settings such as: a particular area of functioning or disability often for school, to help courts settle issues with custody battles or trials, or to assess job applicants or employees, and provide career development training for many employers.
The field of psychometrics, as the measurement of behavior is not a part time endeavor; however, it is a full time occupation for not only individuals, but corporations as well (Thomas, 1977). There are over a dozen well known test publishing houses employing hundreds of professionals whose constant search is for a more refined instrument. Literally thousands of aptitude, achievement, personality, interest, and other special types of tests exist today compared to fifty or sixty years ago when there was only a handful (Madius, 1999).
Tests in general have been around for a long time. Some of the major events in testing during the 20th century are: 1900-1909, Army Alpha Beta test, Spearman’s Factors in Intelligence, the Woodworth Personal data sheet, and the Otis Absolute Point Scale (Jones, 2006), 1920-1929, Rorschach Ink Blot Test, Strong Vocational Interest Blank Test, Clark’s Aptitude Testing, 1930-1939.
Thurstones’s Primary Mental Abilities, Kuder Preference Scale Record, Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test and Piagets Ongoing Intelligence, 1940-1949, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Weschsler Intelligence Scale for Children, and Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale, 1950-1959, Guilford’s the Nature of Human Intelligence, National Defense Education Act, and Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, 1960-1969, National Assessment of Educational Progress, Weschsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence, Kuder Occupational Interest Survey, and the Cattell’s Theory of Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence. 970-1979, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Peabody Picture Test, Use of Computers in Testing and the System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment, 1980-1989, Thorndike, Hagen, and Stattlers revision of the Stanford Binet, Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, and Test in Print III, 1990-2000, Stanford Binet V, Wide Range Achievement Test (3rd Edition), Weschsler Adult Intelligence Scale III, and the Early Mathematics Diagnostic Assessment (Jones, 2006). Accordingly, the psychological tests that were listed previously gives insight to the number of years our society has been testing individuals.
Each test listed represented various forms of testing that met the needs of all people including children. We can see that the testing era is about one hundred years old. The major move was during the 20th century. During World War I and World War II, these tests, including individual and groups, played a huge part to whether or not people were chosen for certain positions (Jones, 2006). Psychological tests assess and evaluate the information a person gives to the psychologists. This information can be given in a form of answers to interview questions, answers on paper, or on a computer to specific questions (Chou, 2000).
There are many types of psychological tests that can be given. Types of test given are the achievement and aptitude tests. These tests are usually seen and given in an educational or employment setting. They are used to measure how much an individual know about a certain topic, such as reading or spelling and how much one can master a specific type of mechanical skills. Intelligence tests are given to measure the basic ability to understand the world around you, and how to apply this knowledge to enhance the quality of life.
According to Howard Gardner, I want my children to understand the world, but, not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not the same as morality, but, we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions. An important part of that understanding knows who we are and what we can do. Ultimately, we must synthesize our understanding for ourselves. The performance of understanding that try matters are the ones we carry out as human beings in n imperfect world we can affect for good or for ill (Gardner, 1999). After this statement by Gardner, he developed the seven multiple intelligence, they are: Linguistic intelligence involves spoken or written language. Logical mathematical intelligence which consists of working various math operations. Musical Intelligence involves appreciation for music. Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the use of the whole body. Spatial intelligence is being able to recognize patterns of space. Interpersonal intelligence is the capacity to work with others, and Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to understand one’s self (Gardner, 1999).
The next psychological test used is the Neuropsychological tests. These tests attempt to measure problems with cognitive functioning that may result from brain damage, or any other illness that affect the nervous system. The next type of psychological tests given is the Occupational tests. This test attempt to match people with their careers. One of the assessment tools used was the Minnesota Importance questionnaire. This questionnaire measures the individual’s vocational needs and values with their interest. The questionnaire is user friendly.
It is administered by a vocational psychologist. It can be used in vocational planning, job placement, and career planning (Minnesota Importance Questionnaire). The next type of psychological test used is the Personality tests. These test measure an individual’s basic personality style and used in most research or forensic setting to help with clinical diagnosis. Two of the most well known personality tests are: Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Rorschach Ink blot test. The MMPI-2 is composed of several hundred closed ended questions.
The Rorschach is composed of several cards; one must describe the picture and feelings of what they see in the pictures (Edberg, 2005). These two forms of personality tests can be objective which will use a rating scale of an ordinal scale, or projective test which allows free response measures. Another type of psychological tests is Specific Clinical tests. These test measure specific clinical matters, such as depression or current level of anxiety (Edberg, 2005). Psychological tests or assessments were mainly created to serve three main reasons which are: 1. to obtain information from tests than by during a clinical interview.
Most people have a hard time talking about their problems. Most people are in denial about issues in their lives, and doing a clinical interview will not be helpful. 2. Information from tests is more consistent than the information received during a clinical interview. The third and final reason is that it is harder to get away with lying or making up stories on tests than during a clinical interview. Many tests have multiple “cues”, that goes off when a test taker tries to lie, however, with a test such as Rorschach Ink blot test, and any response is acceptable (Parkinson, 1997).
The overall problem with psychological tests is their ability to measure what they are suppose to measure. The accuracy of a test is known by its validity. Construct validity refers to the ability of a test to give results similar to other tests of the same construct and different from tests of different constructs. Content validity is the ability of a test to adequately broad range elements that compose a particular construct. The criterion related validity is the ability to predict a person’s performance on something (Parkinson, 1997).
The ability of a test to give consistent results on a psychological assessment is reliability. In order for the test to be valid, it must be reliable. One type of reliability measure is the internal consistency that refers to how well the test items relate to each other. The second type is the test-retest, which refers to how well results from one test relate to the other when the same test is given at a later time. Psychological test in never completely valid or reliable because the human mind is too complicated to know anything about it with full confidence.
That’s why there can be so much uncertainty about a case even after extensive testing (Parkinson, 1997). Psychological tests are not an instant fixed, most of them have been developed through sound scientific principles. Psychological testing can, in some ways, be both valid and reliable. It often does not achieve much more than an impressionistic evaluation of a person (Parkinson, 1997). Every well known and widely used psychological test in the United States was developed and standardized in English.
This may not seem important, but, just consider, what will happen when someone needs to be tested who does not speak English fluently. If the test is translated into another language, all kinds of problems can occur. English words with multiple meanings can not be adequately translated or English idioms can not be expressed in another language without changing the entire sentence structure along the way, therefore, the test can lose its validity (Thomas, 1977). If a person fined themselves being given a psychological test, they must know that they have rights.
Consumers have the right to know the purpose of the tests, the names and rationales of the test being used, the results of the tests, and a signed release giving others permission to pass results to other persons. Beutler, Groth-Marnat, and Rosner (2003), identifies six types of request for information common to most referrals for psychological assessments. They are: 1. What is the current pattern of the client’s behavior, 2. What are the causes of these behaviors, 3. What are the anticipated changes over time, 4. What are some methods for changing for changing these behaviors, 5.
What are the client’s liabilities or shortcomings, and 6? What are the client’s strengths and resources? The degree to which psychological reports answer these questions will shape the treatment of a client. In this way, interviews and psychological reports play a vital role in the lives of people. Using the most appropriate tests, are important, but, psychologists must not over-generalized characterizations or use short phrases when writing a client’s report. It is always best practice to give concrete and specific examples of the clients’ actual behaviors to illustrate certain points (Brenner, 2003).
The bond of trust that is fostered between the interviewer and client make the therapist’s job easier. Client relationships are very important in determining the success of any particular intervention (Martin, Garske, & Davis, 2000). Alternative assessment is a type of psychological assessment that is used to improved teacher instruction and student’s learning throughout history. Students who complete alternative assessment activities demonstrate their ability to reason, and to analyze and evaluate historical evidence.
Historical facts and themes, approached through informed questions are points of departure for demonstrating a student’s ability to reason. Reasoning makes the facts and themes meaningful and thereby brings about a deeper understanding of the subjects. Reasoning certainly involves critical thinking and requires student’s to discover relationships among facts and generalizations, values, as a means to provide a solution to a problem, make good judgment, or to reach a logical conclusion (Snyder, 2006). Alternative assessment is a good tool that psychologists used for assessments for children.
Individual psychological assessment has been a professional practice in personnel psychology for over 50 years, particularly in selection of senior management, professional, and sales staff. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the large scale use of individual psychological assessment in corporations. These assessments were a determining factor in the hire and no hire decision (Thomas, 1977). The popularity of the assessment center’s method overshadowed individual assessment as an approach for identifying managerial and sales talent in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.
Individual psychological assessment today is more multi-purposed, in the sense that assessment is used for many objectives other than selection. Assessment is contextually grounded. Individual psychological assessment today extends beyond the interview, mental abilities test, projective, and personality inventories of long ago. Individual psychological assessment is a remarkable achievement. At one time both a comprehensive introduction for psychologists was a provoking thought, and a horizon expanding treatment for the experience (Thomas, 1977).
Individual assessment is distinguished from traditional personnel selection in that it typically relies on psychological measures and unstructured interviews and data are often integrated. It is viewed as an art rather than a science, and the forces of assessment are on the candidate as a whole rather than on individual abilities or traits (Thomas, 1977). During the earlier years of psychological assessment the most common type of tool used was the paper and pencil test.
Presented in a variety of forms, it remains the simplest and most economical of all devices. The paper and pencil tests have evolved in the last fifty years, from the well known examination to the sophisticated multiple choice test. Multiple choice items permit rapid and objective assessment of the subject knowledge in a variety of areas and provide a mechanism for responses in personality, interest areas, and special ability areas. A Good administrator is one who carefully designs and follows the guidelines for the administration of the instrument.
Well-designed assessment tools usually have comprehensive and detailed instructions regarding how to administer the test, including directions and the examination to all the subjects. The directions can be very specific to the administrator detailing such information as seating arrangements and handling issues that often comes up during a specific test. Therefore, it is important to seek out a setting where the room is a reasonable size and free from noise distractions (Parkinson, 1997). There is one thing to remember before a psychological assessment is given ny adjustment to an instrument, must be cleared with the publisher first. One should be aware of the fact that any significant changes to a test without proper permission can alter the validity of the test therefore, making it unreliable. In Conclusion, psychological assessment tools in America has always been used in our society. It started during the time of World War I, and World War II when the army was evaluating soldiers for war. Now, after all these years tests are still being used. Tests have been updated and went through many changes, but, they are valuable and many psychologists used many forms of tests today.