What is psychological testing?
A test is a procedure used in various fields to obtain an understanding of level of performance, reliability, validity of something before it is put into use in a widespread manner. An assessment on the other hand, is a large scale systematic process of evaluation. Tests act as a sub category in assessments which can consist of various other tools.
Psychological testing is a method of obtaining any kind of samples of behaviour which is related to cognition, affective functioning, etc. and using the results of these tests to evaluate samples. These tests are standardized so that they can remain uniform, without causing any bias. Factors such circumstances of administration, time, and place may affect the results. . But, it tries making all who take the test in any kind of setting, to take it up the same way. Another reason for standardization is to create a standardized sample to be used as a gauge to determine other individual’s performance.
Tests and Assessments can be used interchangeably, and it is important to know the difference. Test is the product to measure certain objectives and Assessments is looked at like a procedure, instead of just the product.
What are psychometric assessments?
Psychometrics is a field in psychology that is associated with theory and technique of measurement of abilities, attitudes, and personality traits, etc. The field is concerned with individual differences in behaviours. Since the 90, various psychologists have used Psychometric assessments in schools, mental health facilities, in therapy and other places as and when required.
- Multiple tests
- Measure multiple domains
- Can have multiple sources such as friends, parents, peer, employers, etc.
- Multiple observations
- Multiple occasions
- All of this info is synthesised and integrated
Characteristics of Psychological assessments:
- They can be quantitative or qualitative
- They are based on a limited sample of behaviour
- There is always a standardized sample
- They can either be norm referenced or criterion referenced
- There can be several dimensions such as
Use of Psychometric Assessments in various facilities:
They can be administered in various settings ranging from schools, hospitals, social agencies, prisons, Human resources, etc.
- Clinical psychologists use it to determine rate of abnormality in a person’s behaviour. It also helps to understand severity of a disorder, the extent to which an individual is affected by a condition, and other deviancies in the behaviour patterns can be observed.
- In workplace settings, psychometric assessments are used vastly to determine of someone is a good fit for a job offered by the company. Usually, the candidates have to take it up before they get placed, during their interview process. The assessments can help gauge their skills, knowledge, intelligence etc. These assessments can help assess the productivity of an employee as well, as well as their intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
- Psychologists use to screen people for disorders related to alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and other disorders such as PTSD, etc.
- In schools, psychometric assessments help understand the IQ level of a child, whether he/she may have a learning disorder, conduct disorder or any other underlying mental illness which can be diagnosed early and treated in an efficient manner.
- Families can also take up these assessments to understand family bonding, parent child relationship, attitudes within the family, couple therapy, etc.
Why are they used so rampantly?
- They are standardised
- They are objective
- They are non-biased
- They are very efficient tools in various organisations
- They can help cut down costs at the HR
- They do not discriminatory
- They can help indicate suitable role for a potential candidate in an organisation
From organisational perspective:
There are several applications of using Psychometric Assessments in a workplace, especially, from a business perspective. These assessments serve as a great tool for:
- Evaluation of an employee
- Engagement of an employee
- Determining the candidates role in an organisation
- Matching employee’s value with that of the organisation
These assessments are different from those in the clinical setup as these analyse specific skills such as mental abilities, job satisfaction, organisational stress, anger management, etc. It is administered only after it is checked to be reliable and valid; otherwise it can provide wrong results. It is used in various work sectors such as Police force, IT, teaching, and army, amongst many others. Reliability is the consistency of test results and Validity of a test is whether the tests actually measures what it says it measures.
Categories of Assessments:
Psychometrics falls under two broad categories:
- Attitude and Personality
- Aptitude or ability
An aptitude tests measure an individual’svarious skills sets which match the role of the candidate for that particular organisation. These include verbal reasoning tests, logical reasoning, Numerical reasoning Tests, mechanical reasoning tests etc. These tests may be multiple choices based, formal and impersonal. Personality is an important construct to determine the role of the candidate in an organisation in terms of motivation level, enthusiasm, values, and success at workplace.
Aptitude tests measure an individual’s performance levels, especially their maximum potential. They usually have multiple choice questions and are mostly close ended. Aptitude tests can be used to measure intelligence, and other abilities that attempts to understand the individual’s abilities and skills sets.
Psychometric tests are an old concept existing since the early 20th century but they were restricted to the educational forum. Alfred Binet introduced the first intelligence test in 1905 and ever since, many tests have been introduced, modified and used in various fields and domains. Psychometric tests have become an absolute necessity in the selection process as employers are not just looking at educational qualifications but would like to assess a candidate’s other acquired skills.
Psychometric tests are very reliable in determining candidate’s role in the organisation and to see if he/she is a suitable fit. It is important to administer these tests in the early stages in order to avoid future conflicts and performance level of the employee.