What is Psychological Test?

We have taken various tests through out our life, Lets understand basic concept in psychological test.


Definition of Measurement?

Measurement is defined as assignment of numerals to objects or events according to some rule (Stevens, 1946).

It consists of rules for assigning numbers to objects in such a way as to represent qualities of attributes (Nunnally,1970).

Definition of Test?

In general test is a critical examination, observation or  evaluation.

It use a set of questions or problems to measure someone’s skills, knowledge, or ability.

Kaplan defined Test as a measurement device or technique used to quantify behavior or aid in the understanding and prediction of behavior.

For example- A spelling test measures how well someone learned to spell.

Test is a systematic procedure for observing a person’s behaviour and describing it with the aid of a numerical scale or a category system (L.J. Cronbach, 1949).

What is Psychological Measurement?

It is assignment of numerals to characteristics or attributes of individual, according to rules (Brown, 1987).

What is Psychological/ Psychometric Test?

It is a standardised and objective technique / tools of eliciting and assessing a sample of behaviour.

It is the test that assesses person’s abilities, aptitudes, interests or personality based on systematically obtained sample of behaviour (Rea,2001).

According to Gregory (2015) Psychological test is a standardized procedure for sampling behavior and describing it with categories or scores.

Anastasi (1982), “A psychological test is essentially an objective and standardized measure of a sample

Kaplan (2005) defined psychological test as a set of items that are designed to measure characteristics of human beings that pertain to behavior.

Behavior can be overt (Observable) or Covert (Hidden) like feelings, thoughts.

According to American Psychological Association (APA), Psychological Test is any standardized instrument, including scales and self-report inventories, used to measure behavior or mental attributes, such as attitudes, emotional functioning, intelligence and cognitive abilities (reasoning, comprehension, abstraction, etc.), aptitudes, values, interests, and personality characteristics.

For example, a researcher might use a psychological test of emotional intelligence to examine whether some managers make better decisions in conflict situations than do others.

Psychological tests are also called Psychometric test.

Psychological tests measure past or current or predict future behavior.

Most Psychological tests possess these defining characteristics :

• Standardized procedure
• Behavior sample
• Scores or categories
• Norms or standards
• Prediction of nontest behavior

History of Psychological / Psychometric  tests 

Psychological test finds roots in Sophistry which is a filed of of debate and .questioning

Protegeras  proposed word ‘Thesis’. antithesis, synthesis.

Hypo- below .

Epistemology- It a branch of philosophy deals with how to get knowledge.

Scientific method – observable, measurable, verifiable .

The Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E.) China the use of test batteries (two or more tests used in conjunction)  to choose in military and civil servants.

Ancient Greeks used tests  for educational processes.

—In 19th century ,USA and Europeans established many social institution for taking care of  MR persons. They needed objective system to classification.

—French physician  Esquirol provided the continuum for the mentally retarded person .

—Seguin -1st schools for MR in France. Seguin Form Board –inserting various  shaped blocks  in to corresponding recesses as quick as possible.

Francis Galton’s Contribution in Psychological testing

He launched testing movement .

He coined  the terms ‘psychometrics’.

In 1884,  Anthropometric laboratory –visitors could measure certain physical  traits –vision reaction time.

Galton Bar (vision ), Galton Whistle (highest audible pitch)

He used Rating Scales ,Questionnaire, Free Association Techniques

He Developed a method for measuring intelligence based on nonverbal sensory-motor tests.

He co-developed Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient ( Pearson’s r) with Karl Pearson .

Charles Spearman’s Contribution in Psychological testing

Charles Spearman was the early psychometrician who gave contribution to the development of reliability assessment. He gave ‘Classical test theory‘. Spearman worked out most of the basics of contemporary reliability theory and published a article entitled “The Proof and Measurement of Association between Two Things.

He laid foundation of psychometric testing.

He help inn Theory of multiple intelligences -G factor, S  factor,

He used factor analysis in in standardization of Psychological tests .

He gave statistical tool -Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient or Spearman’s rho.

James Cattell gave Experimental  psychology. In 1980,  He coined ‘mental test’ –individual tests for measuring muscles strength , speed of movement ,memory, reaction time.

Alfred Binet populaized whole psychological testing with his Binet-Simon Scale  -IQ test.

Consequently, psychological testing emerged on the basis of Darwin, Galton, and Cattell’s work on measuring individual differences, and the other—more theoretically significant and likely stronger—based on the work of  psychophysicists Spearman, Herbart, Weber, Fechner, and Wundt.

Characteristics of Psychological / Psychometric  tests 

Every standard Psychological test will have following characteristics-

  1. Uniformity
  2. Objectivity measurement
  3. Comprehensiveness
  4. Psychometric Properties

1. Uniformity:

  • It refers to uniformity of administration and scoring.
  • This feature is mainly required for intelligence, aptitude and personality tests.
  • To establish uniformity researcher try to form an objective scoring key.
  • This particular characteristic is a limitation for Projective Psychometric tests.
  • Objective administration and scoring results in minimal errors hence results of the test are more valid.
  • Personal biases and limitation are taken care of to make results more accurate.
  • Examples .Intelligence test ,Aptitude test

2. Objective Measurement:

  • It refers to the objective measurement of discrimination and/or difficulty index.
  • Items in the tests should be having moderate level of difficulty.
  • For example,  In a Maths test; if all the problems are difficult it would be difficult to judge the students because nobody will get good marks, vice a versa if all the problems are easy everybody will get good marks. Hence in both the cases judgement of the students and discriminating them into categories will be difficult.
  • Discrimination index is used in personality tests where there is no difficulty but individuals are discriminated on the basis of the their attributes and characteristics.

3. Comprehensiveness:

  • Comprehensiveness refers to inclusion of various functions related to the topic of the test.
  • Hence a test should comprehended the data and should have a relevant content in it.
  • For example-  A primary school maths test should include all the mathematical functions which children may have already learnt and not only the selected functions.

4. Psychometric Properties:

  • A sound psychological test must have 3 psychometric properties including all of the following:
  • Reliability – Obtaining the same result after multiple testing.
  • Validity- must measure what it is intended to measure.
  • Norms- The average test score , to compared to the results of others by establishing a point of comparison or frame of reference.


Anastasi, A. & Urbina, S. (2009). Psychological testing. N.D.: Pearson Education.
Kaplan R.M.& Saccuzzo D.P.(2005) Psychological Testing,Principles ,Applications and Issues.Sixth Ed. Cengage Learning India, Pvt Ltd.

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