Issues in Psychological Testing
Issues in Psychological Testing PSY/475 October 24, 2011 Issues in Psychological Testing What are at least two ethical issues associated with psychological testing? What impact do these issues have on the field of psychological testing? Informed consent involves the process by which a psychologist gain an individual’s voluntary consent prior to the administration of an assessment or test. As stated by Hogan (2007), “The psychologist is responsible for informing the person about the nature and purpose of the assessment” (p. 91). When providing this information it is imperative that the psychologist do so in a manner that is understandable to the examinee, it needs to be communicated on his or her level. If the patient or examinee is under the legal age of consent or in unable to authorize consent for another reason; parents, a legal guardian, or appropriate substitute must then provide consent. It is important that the psychologist convey that consent can be withdrawn at any time during the assessment process (Hogan, 2007).
Exceptions to this rule exist including assessments mandated by the court or other government regulation in which case the psychologist need only explain the nature and purpose of the test as well as any limitations to the rule of confidentiality (American Psychological Association, n. d. ). Implied consent is another exception and applies to assessments administered during the job application process and “institutional testing programs” such as school assessments (Hogan, 2007, p. 591). Test security is another ethical issue related to psychological testing.
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The administrator for a test must ensure that materials and scored results are kept in a secure location and not easily accessed by unauthorized persons. Care should be taken to refrain from revealing the content of a test (test items) publicly through media outlets or even casual conversations. Both of these issues are significant to the process of psychological testing. Informed consent is necessary to provide anyone volunteering to take an assessment or test the opportunity to fully consider what personal information will be revealed as well as any ramifications that may result in doing so.
Participants must be afforded the chance to make this determination without the undue influence of others. Most tests require the cooperation of participants if they are expected to yield true and accurate results with any degree of reliability. Additionally, test security is significantly important as well to ensure that individuals who participate in an assessment do not have prior knowledge or exposure to the questions asked. Psychological tests are more reliable when the examinee has not had time to prepare or rehearse the answers they will provide.
If the contents of assessments given to prospective employees are revealed to the public, individuals who have seen them may have a significant and unfair advantage over those who have not. What are at least two legal issues associated with psychological testing? How do these issues affect the field of psychological testing? The equal protection clause, found under Section one of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is important to psychological testing. This clause provides that all individuals shall be afforded protection under the same laws as everyone else regardless of class, race, gender, etc.
According to Hogan (2007), “If a test (or anything else) operates to arbitrarily restrict the rights (including opportunities) of some individuals (citizens), then the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment becomes relevant” (p. 600). The relevance of this clause as it relates to psychological testing is that no test or measurement should be used for the purpose of identifying an individual as a specific race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, culture, or age.
If such tests are used for the purpose of discrimination it will yield untrue or skewed results because people will not feel secure enough to disclose any personal information that could lead to them being rejected on the basis of any of these factors. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (or FERPA) of 1974 is another important legal issue that relates to psychological testing. FERPA guarantees that individuals, parents, or legal guardians have a right to openly access to any information about themselves, or children in the case of parents and guardians.
Additionally, they can “…challenge the validity of information in agency files, and that unwarranted other parties do not have access to personal information” (Hogan, 2007, p. 604). With regard to testing this means that there should be access to assessment and test scores and that the release and availability of these scores is limited to specific persons unless consent has otherwise been provided. Which court case do you feel has had the largest impact on the field of psychological testing? Why? I believe the class action lawsuit Soroka v.
Dayton Hudson Corporation filed in 1989 impacted the use of psychological testing in the pre-employment screening process. The lawsuit claimed that portions of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the California Psychological Inventory, which security applicant were required to take during the application process violated the “…privacy provisions of the California Constitution and certain anti-discrimination laws” (American Psychological Association, n. d. , Issue). The complainant contended that the required inventories contained questions that were invasive, probative, and had no significant job relevance.
According to Saterfiel and Associates (2003), the true or false questions included statements such as – “I believe my sins are unpardonable” – “I am attracted to members of my own sex” – “My sex live is satisfactory” – “I have never been in trouble because of my sexual behavior” and – “I feel sure there is only one true religion” (Saroka v. Dayton Hudson). Target used these inventories to help identify emotional characteristics that deemed to be problematic in security personnel.
Target claimed to have no knowledge of the responses provided by prospective employees stating that “The tests were administered with answer sheets which were then placed in sealed envelopes and sent to the consultants for scoring and interpretation” (American Psychological Association, n. d. , Facts). Target further asserted that they received only reports from their consultants and never saw any candidate’s responses to the inventories questions. It was determined by the Superior Court that the complainants failed to establish that employment was denied based on religion, sexual orientation, or sexual traits.
Upon appeal this decision was reversed and Target eventually settled the case out of court. I think this case was important to the issue of psychological testing, specifically their use in the pre-employment screening process because even when outside consultants are used, businesses and corporations administering tests such as the ones in this case, seek personal information that in most cases is not relevant to the job being sought. Subsequently, the evaluations, depending on who is completing them may display bias toward potential employees for reasons that go against the rights afforded to us under the U. S. Constitution.
References American Psychological Association. (n. d. ). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct: 2010 Amendments. Retrieved from http://www. apa. org/ethics/code/index. aspx American Psychological Association. (n. d. ). Soroka v. Dayton Hudson Corp. , dba Target Stores. Retrieved from http://www. apa. org/about/offices/ogc/amicus/soroka. aspx Hogan, T. P. (2007). Psychological testing: A practical introduction (2nd ed. ). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Saterfiel and Associates. (2003). Legality Issues Supporting the Use of Pre-Employment Testing. Retrieved from http://www. employment-testing. com/legality. htm