Anastasi and Urbina (1997) note that all psychological tests are tools that can be beneficial or harmful depending upon how they are applied to people and situations. Their first chapter cogently explores all of the contributing reasons to their assertions about both positions.
Basically, there are several elements that determine the quality and suitability of a psychological test’s ability to be a good predictor of one’s behavior. First, the test should be an objective and standardized measure of a small sample of an individual’s behavior, such as intellectual skills, vocational suitability, or personality functioning. Implicit to these parameters are the concepts of reliability and validity.
A test is reliable in that it is consistent in what it measures over time. For example, a test that measures a student’s IQ as being 80 on Monday, but 130 on Thursday would demonstrate weak reliability. To be reliable, the test should be measuring what it states it is set up to measure. A second important quality of good psychological tests is that of validity, or the measure of a test’s usefulness. For example, we might think that one who scores high on a scale of anger may have interpersonal problems across a variety of situations. Thirdly, psychological tests must be administered to large groups of people of all ages ( i.e., IQ tests) to determine how the scores may be typically obtained. Standardization provides a mean (average) and a standard deviation (i.e. spread of scores across different age groups)(Groth-Marnot, 2003) from which to compare an indivvidual’s functioning to their same age peers.
While tests can contain all of the essential elements of a good assessment instrument, they are only as good as the person administering them (Anastasi & Urbina, 1997). As Anastasi and Urbina (1997) point out, the examiner must be well trained to make the testing...