Psychological Testing

The human mind is an elaborate make-up of infinite characteristics defined through assessments and testing.  Psychological testing and assessments hold the ability to identify norms and irregularities in human thought and behavior (“American Psychological Association”, 2015).  Through various categories of testing, researchers and psychologists can recognize characteristics and behaviors of humans necessary to establish norms and abnormalities of the human mind.


Psychological testing is the implementation of assessments and tests that delve into an individual’s thoughts and behavior to define personality and behavioral traits defining them as an individual (“American Psychological Association”, 2015).  A test is a standardized process that quantifies behavior and cognition (Hogan, 2007).   According to the “American Psychological Association (2015), psychological tests are administered for a variety of reasons making it is necessary to have a variety of tests.  Testing aids in pinpointing the underlying cause of the potential issue that is being assessed (“American Psychological Association,” 2015).  Administering psychological tests helps to identify the problem, understand the nature of the problem, as well as develop ways to intervene and address the problem (“American Psychological Association,” 2015).   There are several categories of tests utilized by professionals that establish the norm and abnormalities in individual cognition and behavior.

Categories of Tests

There are five categories of tests that set the foundation of behavior and cognitive functioning within a group or individual (Hogan, 2007).  Mental ability tests measure a variety of cognitive functions such as spatial visualization, memory, and creative thinking administered to a group or individually (Hogan, 2007).  Historically, these abilities combined with quantitative reasoning, and vocabulary made up intelligence testing known as other abilities (Hogan, 2007).  Achievement testing, the most widely used category, apprises knowledge or skill in a specific domain (Hogan, 2007).  Achievement batteries are utilized in educational settings to evaluate the consummation of the basic educational subjects (Hogan, 2007).  Single subject achievement tests evaluate the knowledge of a single subject and certification and licensing testing notates an area of specialization of performance (Hogan, 2007).  Government agency sponsored achievement testing establishes if an individual has attained enough knowledge to quantify the completion of a specific domain (Hogan, 2007).  Achievement tests may be administered individually as an aid in identifying cognitive dysfunction and develop a treatment plan (Hogan, 2007).

Personality testing is utilized to gain understanding and clarity of certain personality traits held by an individual (Hogan, 2007).  Objective personality tests utilize a true and false inventory of questions that identify similarities and differences among several clinical groups through a comparison (Hogan, 2007).  Objective personality tests contain two subcategories:  Normal range assessment and pathological or disabling conditions (Hogan, 2007).  Projective techniques are simple and unstructured tests that aim to identify definitive personality pieces (Hogan, 2007).

Vocational testing explores interests and attitudes towards different aspects of life that can be utilized to provide career opportunities that relate to personal interest (Hogan, 2007).  Neuropsychological tests utilize personality and ability tests in areas such as memory, verbal, and figural material to assess the functioning of the central nervous system (Hogan, 2007).  The primary focus is to assess the brain functioning of an individual to establish if there is an underlying abnormality that may be contributing to abnormal performance and behavior (Hogan, 2007).  Tests are used to conduct research in a variety of fields with a variety of purposes (Hogan, 2007).

Major Uses and Users of Psychological Testing

Settings of psychological vary depending on what is being measured.  Clinical use of psychological testing identifies the nature and severity of a potential problem (Hogan, 2007).   Psychologists, counselors, and neuropsychologists establish the severity on a scale of severe, such as an underlying schizoid disorder, to mild, as in selecting a college major (Hogan, 2007).  Primarily intelligence testing is utilized in clinical settings. However, objective personality and projective techniques are also popular in diagnosing and treating individuals (Hogan, 2007).

Educational settings utilize ability and achievement testing in a group setting to establish the level of student learning and predict success in academic work (Hogan, 2007).  Teachers, parents, the general public, and educational administrators administer standardized tests in a group setting (Hogan, 2007).  Personnel and employment testing are utilized my businesses and military to select individuals for a position (Hogan, 2007).  Vocational, intelligence, and personality tests are administered to identify general ability, skills, and personality characteristics that identify the individual’s ability to perform a specific task Hogan, 2007).  The military also utilizes vocational testing to allocate properly human resources to optimize the overall efficiency of the military unit (Hogan, 2007).

The most diverse users of psychological testing are researchers who use testing in all areas (Hogan, 2007).  The test being utilized is the dependent variable in research in the sense that the test defines what is being tested (Hogan, 2007).  Using testing in research eliminates the necessity of developing a new measure, identifying normative and reliability information, and having to prove replicability (Hogan, 2007).  The use of pre-established tests signifies that pre-established norms, and therefore, standard deviations are already known making it easier to compare results (Hogan, 2007).  Norms are the mean average results of testing among larger groups (Hogan, 2007).  An established norm allows researchers to compare results and establish reliability and validity of research and testing (Hogan, 2007).

Reliability and Validity

Norms, in conjunction with reliability and validity, establish the core of test theory (Hogan, 2007).  Reliability and validity are essential components of psychological testing.  The concern of reliability is that test scores prove to be stable whereas, validity is concerned that the test measures what it purports actually to measure (Hogan, 2007).  Testing must be proven reliable, however, it is not required to be valid (Hogan, 2007).  Although a test does not have to be valid to be reliable, reliability is necessary to prove validity (Hogan, 2007).  A test that is consistently reliable yields replicable, similar scoring and can be depended upon to replicate the similar score each administration (Hogan, 2007).  A valid test must be proven to test what it purports to test and not carry the potential to test something else (Hogan, 2007).  The degree of validity establishes the extent of the effectiveness of the test (Hogan, 2007).   The strength of a test relies heavily on its reliability and validity, although validity is necessary for reliability, a test having both proves stronger than one lacking validity (Hogan, 2007).


Testing provides an efficient way of aggregating information of the human mind. Testing is utilized to compare and contrast an individual to the norms of a group and establish potential deficiencies. Categorical tests allow researchers and psychologists to delve into certain aspects of human functioning.  Testing and assessment allow researchers and psychologists to learn the norms of human nature and develop a plan of intervention and action when an individual emits a dysfunction in the mind or behavior.  Reliable and valid testing set the foundation that establishes the expected norms of humans. 



American Psychological Association. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/assessment.aspx

Hogan, T. P. (2007). Psychological testing: A practical introduction (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


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