Psychological Testing Research Paper Starter

Psychological Testing

This article focuses on psychological tests and how they are used for children and adults. The different types of psychological tests and descriptions of some of the more commonly used psychological assessments are also included, as well as reasons for testing and general precautions when administering the tests and discussing results with stakeholders.

Keywords Ability Tests; Achievement Tests; Age- & Grade-Equivalent Scores; Assessment; Cognitive; Intelligence Quotient; Intelligence Testing; Neuropsychological Tests; Norms; Percentile; Personality Testing; Psychopathology; Standard Deviation; Standardized Test


Psychological tests are implemented in order to evaluate cognitive and emotional performance in people of all ages. The exams can be administered via written, visual, or verbal assessments. The results can be a valuable means of calculating the different mental capacities, skills, and abilities, as well as the achievement capabilities of personality and neurological functioning. Psychological testing can help others understand personality and how it affects psychological disorders.

Types of Personality Assessment

There are different types of psychological assessments.

Projective Tests

Among personality tests are projective tests, which try to assess one’s persona around the idea that people will project their own unconscious opinions and thoughts into ambiguous circumstances and situations. The Rorschach Test, developed by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, is the best known example of this type of psychological assessment. Rorschach showed a selection of standardized inkblots to his patients and asked them what they thought. The Thematic Apperception Test was developed by American psychologist Henry Murray. He used a normal series of photographs and asked his patients to tell a story based on what they saw and then later analyzed each story to try to determine attitudes and patterns of reaction.

Questionnaire Based Tests

Other personality tests use questionnaires to determine personality. These types of assessments are generally answered with true, false, or cannot determine, which makes them objective tests. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a commonly used objective test, was created in 1942 to try to define what constituted a "normal" personality and to try to detect personality deviances. The Minnesota Mulitphasic Personality Inventory produces profiles that are used to classify subjects for psychological disorders like schizophrenia, sociopathy, depression and hysteria and is useful in determining mental illness. However, the inventory is not as useful in diagnosing specific mental disorders.

Behavioral Assessments

Behavioral assessments also fall into the broad category of psychological testing. With behavioral assessment, a psychologist observes an individual's actions in their natural setting. Using a checklist system, behavioral assessments can be used by both parents and teachers to evaluate children's behavior at home and in the classroom to assist the psychologist.


Achievement and intelligence tests fall under the auspices of psychological testing. Achievement and aptitude tests can sometimes be mistaken for intelligence tests because they all have commonalities and the format is similar. While intelligence tests sample behavior already learned in an attempt to predict future learning, achievement tests attempt to measure what children already know about specific content areas such as mathematics and English, and aptitude tests are used to try to predict future performance. Schools can use aptitude and achievement exams in order to evaluate students' capabilities with their accomplishments to see if there is any disconnect. Schools may also use educational aptitude and achievement tests for older students to determine if students have special talents, any specific vocational interests, or superior motor skills needed for certain careers. These help guide students who are undecided about what they would like to do when they finish high school.

Types of Psychological Tests

Personality Tests

Personality tests can be administered to diagnose psychopathology and to help determine personality strengths and weaknesses. Personality tests usually assess the attitudes and emotions that make up an individual’s personality, such as hypochondria, depression, hysteria, paranoia, and social introversion. There are many personality assessments available, including the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, which can be used to examine students for psychopathologies or emotional instability. The Rorschach Inkblot Test and Thematic Apperception Test are examples of projective personality assessments in which students' responses can give the examiner insight into their thought processes and personality traits.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is intended to be used with students age 18 and older who can read at or beyond the sixth grade level. The assessment can be given by using pencils and paper, audiocassette or CD recording, or via computer and is available in English, Spanish, and French. It consists of 567 true/false items and can take anywhere from 60-90 minutes to complete. However, a shortened version of the assessment of only the first 370 items may be given. The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory is intended to be used with students age 18 and older who can read at or beyond the eighth grade level. The assessment can be administered in a paper-and-pencil format, audiocassette or CD recording, or via computer. It is much shorter than the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and takes only 25-30 minutes to complete with 175 true/false items.

Rorschach Inkblot Test

The Rorschach Inkblot Test assesses basic personality structure using 10 inkblot plates. It can be used with students who are at least five years of age. Since reading is not required to take the assessment, barriers associated with reading and comprehensions are overcome. There is no set time for completing the assessment (Rorschach, n.d.). The Thematic Apperception Test uses 10 picture cards to stimulate stories or descriptions and can be administered in an individual or group setting. It may also be self-administered. There are specific cards for boys and girls, and they can respond either orally or in writing. The Thematic Apperception Test is intended for individuals who are 10 years of age or older, and there is no set time for completing the assessment.

Neuropsychological Tests

Neuropsychological tests help evaluate students' level of performance and can also point out areas of mental inadequacy. These assessments can also help to screen students for delays in development or learning disabilities. There is quite a bit of overlap with personality and achievement and ability assessments because neuropsychological tests can stretch over many types of mental ailments, including those of simple motor functions to reasoning and problem solving skills. In objective neuropsychological examinations, quantitative results are compared with normative standards, including data from groups of normal functioning people and people who have different types of brain impairments. The norms can be based on age and educational achievement. Qualitative assessment of neuropsychological tests can provide a look at the learning processes a student may use. The key to effective neuropsychological assessment is analyzing a pattern of performance among a large number of tests, which means a combination of objective scores, behavioral process observations, and a pattern of results is necessary for an accurate...

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