Introduction To Psychological Testing Paper

23 Mar 2015

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The study of person and his characteristics is the most important tasks of psychological science. Development of psychological science is characterized with significant increase in interest to problems of psycho diagnostic. The aim of modern psycho diagnostic is research of characteristics and differences between individuals and groups in a systematic manner. The task of such research in the most general form is definition of mental and psychological characteristics of individuals and their intra-individual relationships.

Psychological test is the basis for psycho diagnostics of people and the foundation of practical psychology. The aim of this paper is to define the concept of psychological test, describe its major categories, the concepts of reliability and validity, and other fundamental questions associated with psychological testing.

The concept of a psychological test and its main characteristics

The scope of psycho diagnostic includes a set of various diagnostic methods to identify psychological characteristics of man. It represents a bridge between general and applied psychology, and in relation to the methods used, it acts as a common ground that unites all areas of their practical application. Practical psycho diagnostics solves some typical problems, which include the following: 

1. To establish certain psychological properties or behavior in a person. 

2. Determine the degree of development of these properties and their expression in specific quantitative and qualitative terms. 

3. Description of diagnostic psychological behavior of a person

4. Comparison of the degree of development of psychological characteristics in different people.

The standardized psycho diagnostic methods, allowing obtaining comparable quantitative and qualitative indicators of the degree of development of the properties in people, are called psychological tests. Under standardized techniques is meant that they have strictly defined rules of application, ranging from studying the situation and ending with the methods of calculation and interpretation of results.

The literature presents a great variety of definitions of psychological tests: 

"Psychological test is essentially an objective and standardized measurement of a sample of behavior" (The American Psychological Association). 

"Test is a standardized, often time-limited study designed to establish the quantitative (and qualitative) individual psychological differences (The American Psychological Association). 

"Under test is understood a specific tool for evaluating the psychological qualities of the individual, which consists of set of tasks or questions, offered under standard conditions and is intended to identify particle types of behavior" (The American Psychological Association)

Objectivity, validity and reliability are the main requirements to the test. It is necessary to consider these concepts and to discuss how they impact the field of psychological testing.

Objectivity of a psychological test means that primary indicators, evaluation and interpretation of data do not depend on the behavior and subjective judgments of the experimenter. Development of testing tasks, its procedure, processing of test results is carried out according to certain standard rules. To achieve objectivity, a psychological test must follow the next conditions:

- standardization of procedures of conducting the test to allow comparison of its results;

- standardization of test performance evaluation;

- Definition of result norms of the test for comparison them with results got from the processing of test data.

These three conditions are referred to as the stages of standardization of psychological tests. During the development of a test certain standardization procedures are carried out, which include three stages: 

1. The first stage of standardization of psychological tests is to establish uniform testing procedures.

2. The second phase is to establish a uniform evaluation of the test: the standard interpretation of the results and pre-standard evaluation.

3. The third stage of standardization of psychological tests is to determine the norms of the test. Norms are necessary in the interpretation of test results (primary parameters), as a benchmark with which to compare testing data. For example, in tests of intelligence the primary received IQ is correlated with standard IQ (43, 44, 45 points in the test of Raven). If the IQ received by respondent is above normative, as 60 points, we can talk about of the respondent as high. If the resulting IQ is lower than the norm, then the level of intelligence is low, if the received IQ is 43, 44 or 45 points, then it is average. (Ford-Martin, 2004)

All methods of psychological diagnosis, both standardized and non-standardized, are aimed at measuring personality traits and characteristics of intelligence. Each method is designed to measure a certain personal characteristic, and information about the extent to which the test actually measures it is known as the concept of validity. 

Effective method of testing can be created, if it passed all the stages of validation, when it meets requirements of both general and practical validity. Practical validity describes the test not by its psychological content, but in terms of its value for achieving certain practical goals (prediction, diagnosis). (Messic, 1980)

The last important characteristic of tests are their reliability.  Reliability means consistency of test results of each testing attempt with the same subject, with the results of his first test. Absolute reliability of the test does not exist, and errors are allowed, but the higher are they, the lower is the test reliability. The high reliability of the testing method means that it accurately measures the characteristic.

These three basic characteristics of psychological test determine its use in practical psychology.

Conclusion

Psycho diagnostics is an area of psychological science, and at the same time the most important form of psychological practice, that is associated with the development and use of various methods of recognition of individual psychological characteristics of people.

Psycho diagnostics is a set of methods and tools for diagnosis of mental characteristics of man. One of such methods is testing. The use of psychological tests is aimed to investigate the characteristics of person, and provide information about mental properties of a particular person (the subject).

An effective psychological test should meet requirements such as objectivity, validity and reliability, in this case it gives the correct results, which can be interpreted and applied in practical psychology.



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