Psychological tests 2
Last week we got an insight into the nature of psychological tests used in our day to day life. Today we look into the type of psychological tests available. Tests have been developed to measure many different human characteristics. Among the most widely used tests are those designed to measure what people have learned – skills such as reading and arithmetic and the general information that people have acquired. These are called as achievement tests and they are used for specific educational attainments. The other types of tests are ability tests which focus on what people can do when they are at their very best. Ability tests are used to measure or potential rather than actual achievement. These are called as aptitude tests – ability to learn a particular kind of skill required in a specific situation. For e.g. we might test a person’s aptitude for learning how to do mechanical drawing, learning to how pilot an airplane or learning surgical skills. The other types of tests are called as personality tests which reveals a person’s characteristic ways of thinking, feeling or behaving. Some tests measures personality attitudes – the way a person responds emotionally and cognitively to another person, thing or situation. They can also measure underlying thought processes, emotional states or behaviour patterns that are abnormal or reflect psychological disorders. While cognitive skills are important in school, they may be less important in an occupation. Then non-cognitive skills like large perceptual-motor components become important. Vocational-aptitude tests measure the mechanical abilities like manual dexterity, steadiness, muscular strength, speed of response to a signal and co-ordination of many movements into a unified whole.
The other type of tests are personality tests which do not involve levels of success or even right or wrong answers; its objective is not to gauge how successful a person will be but, rather what the person is usually like(in thoughts, feelings, and behaviour patterns). Certain personality types are more suited to sensitive jobs. The tests can be in the form of pencil and paper questionnaires, projective methods like Thematic Aperception Test or checklists. Many personality tests appear in popular magazines – tests that purport to tell us whether we are good lovers, optimists, introverts, self-actualized people and so forth. The fact is that most of these tests have not been validated. Such tests are sometimes selected for use because their items look valid – that is they have face validity. But looks can deceive. Proven validity is hard to come by in personality tests. One reason is that an enormous expense and effort is involved in obtaining and updating the validity and norms of these tests. Furthermore, time does not stand still; norms go out of date. For e.g. intelligence tests scores for preschool children and adults have gone up; while at the high school and college levels have gone down. Although the reasons for these trends are a matter of debate, such changes point up the necessity of restandardizing tests from time to time. In actual practice, psychological tests are never perfectly reliable. One reason is that real, meaningful changes do occur in individuals over time; for example, a person who scores low in her group at an initial testing may develop new skills that raise her to a higher position in the group by the second time. The other reason is partly due to the instability of things like attitudes and feelings. The checklists are a direct observation of people’s behaviour and is more used for children. This helps to list the problem in explicit, observable terms and provides for reports from family members and teachers of the child. In response to your query about the vocational guidance tests and aptitude tests, there are two types. One type generally used by the employers measures the specific job requirements that they may have and forecast the success in them as accurately as possible. The other types are used by vocational guidance counselors who help people make a choice – usually a fairly general choice – among broad lines of work. For this, they may use more generalized tests that sample many different aspects of specific attitudes.
Having looked at all this material, Vinit, you can now judge the importance of psychological testing in day to day life. This means that tests must be selected and used with great care. Also, the people who make the decisions must pay close attention to test content, selecting tests on the relevant people attributes.