When assisting students in choosing jobs that fit their personalities, a college counselor at a prominent university employs computer-administered personality test(s) as a key resource. All students seeking counseling receive the assessment(s), although qualitative interviews are not part of the evaluation process. Since both terminologies are used to illustrate the scenario, my first thought is to wonder if one test or several tests are being used. A psychological evaluation refers to using multiple tests to reach a judgment, even if both terms can be used interchangeably in some situations (Urbina, 2014).
What setting the test took place in is a key issue in the scenario given and one that applies to all psychological testing. In psychological testing, the physical testing setting has a role (Urbina, 2014). What other techniques are used if the computer-administered personality test(s) are the main source of information as described? Why doesn’t the counselor include a qualitative interview in the assessment process? In order to comprehend “the nature of why personality measures correlate with real-world outcomes” (Kumar, 2016, p. 19), are the tests comprehensive enough?
Factors Affecting Object Test
Performance Standardized personality tests can help in hiring and other employment decisions, according to accepted theory (O’Neill et al., 2013). However, a study by Elliot and Grieve (2013) revealed that participants thought they were more than capable of faking the outcomes of a psychological exam delivered via a computer. According to O’Neill and colleagues (2013), “evidence suggests that job applicants often ‘fake’ on pre-employment personality tests by attempting to portray an exceedingly desirable impression” (p. 162). As a result, the test-taker’s honesty affects their performance on objective psychological tests. It is “highly reliable” to use an integrity test (p.167) approach of detecting probable deceit when combined with personality tests (O’Neill et al., 2013). Additionally, results from integrity tests may support those from “criterion-focused occupational personality scales” that are seen to be successful (Kumar, 2016, p. 61).
Self-efficacy, which is the “sole significant predictor of decisional anxiety” (p. 190) and, as a result, has an important impact on test performance (Lent et al., 2019), is a concept. Extreme test anxiety can be a symptom of some persons’ self-efficacy issues and decisional anxiety. By nature, objective personality tests limit the options available to participants, which can “become debilitating or even incapacitating” (Groth-Marnat & Wright, 2016) for someone with low self-efficacy. Students who are educated about relevant practices are more self-assured and less fearful when making decisions (Lent et al., 2016). The counselor must, therefore, be prepared to describe the assessment and address any concerns before the exam is administered.
Conscientiousness is the desire to do well, as opposed to self-efficacy, which is the individual’s belief in their ability to perform well. Conscientiousness ranks highly on the list of factors that affect test performance because it is the “single best, generalizable Big Five factor on job performance” (Ones et al., 2007, p. 1002). Though performance depends on more than just a person’s desire to succeed, people who engage in “non-negative” thinking typically enjoy better results (Ones et al., 2007). The influence of a student’s self-efficacy, or lack thereof, will probably not be successfully mitigated by the counselor.
Concerns about Validity and Reliability
Integrity in testing, which affects individual performance, raises questions about validity and reliability. Testing deception over time can alter expected norms (Urbina, 2014).
Integrity checks are useful for spotting fraud and forecasting disruptive conduct (Kumar, 2016). The counselor will probably be able to defend the overall credibility of the assessment by including an integrity test in their battery.
According to Kumar (2016), personality tests are meant to “provide descriptive measures of underlying contracts that account for systematic differences” (p. 19) in The Wiley Handbook of Personality Assessment. These tests, however, cannot take into account all personal variations. Even though Ones et al. (2007) stated that self-report personality scales “the accumulated evidence supports the use of self-report personality scales in organizational decision-making” (p. 1010), some people may find that standard personality tests are insufficient. The counselor’s computerized personality test will statistically be invalid for some pupils. Giving and evaluating numerous tests is necessary to account for these people.
Testing bias could be problematic for validity. Standardized testing “may be biased towards or alternatively not accommodate different ethnic or cultural respondents” (Montalto, 2014, p. 129). As a result, ethnic groups frequently receive much less accurate findings from electronic testing (Montalto, 2014). The college counselor must be aware of potential biases in the testing procedures used to address this problem.
Another ethical concern is potential bias. Psychologists are prohibited from discriminating against patients based on their race, religion, age, or gender under American Psychological Association (APA, 2017) Rule 3.01 on Unfair Discrimination. In Rule 9.06 (APA, 2017), psychologists are cautioned against biases in interpreting assessment results, which elaborates on this further. Once more, in order to remedy this, the counselor must be conscious of any biases that might be present in the selected testing procedures.
The expertise of psychologists in standard testing procedures is another issue. Some psychologists operate on the presumption that they do not require specialist training for electronic testing, whether on purpose or out of incompetence (Montalto, 2014). This directly contravenes Rule 2.01(a), which states that practitioners must act “within the bounds of [their] competence” (APA, 2017). Psychologists must also uphold their competency following Rule 2.01(b) by engaging in “training, experience, consultation, or supervision” (APA, 2017). Although certain states can have continuous education standards, psychologists must ultimately uphold their professional competency. As a result, before giving the chosen tests, the college counselor should seek the training required to completely comprehend them.
The ethical issue of data collecting and informed permission is unique to computer-based testing. According to Urbina (2014), p. 282, psychologists “increasingly came to recognize that test takers…need to be informed of their rights and responsibilities in the testing process.” Rule
Rule 9.03 directs psychologists to seek informed consent before providing testing (unless when testing is mandated by law or consent is implicit), and Rule 9.04 forbids the dissemination of information without authorization (APA, 2017). Sadly, Montalto (2014) observed:
The psychologist, the client, and the “ether in the middle,” or the unidentified processes and people supplying the medium and service that is being used, are the three parties that must be taken into account while evaluating the potential dangers and ethical considerations associated with the usage of online testing. (p. 128).
The counselor needs to be thoroughly informed about “the ether,” including who controls the test, how it was created, and the student protections in place. For a student to agree to take the test, the counselor must inform them of any potential threats to their right to privacy posed by electronic testing.
When advising students on potential jobs, college counselors rely heavily on information from personality tests. These exams have the potential to be a very powerful tool for finding possible occupations. Since formalized testing only evaluates the intended qualities (O’Neill et al., 2013), it is merely one component of a “well-planned decision-making strategy” (Urbina, 2014, p. 23). Researchers advise utilizing self-reporting measures and observer ratings in addition to qualitative interviews since they “produce[s] validities that are comparable to the most valid selection measures” (Ones et al., 2007, p. 1020). A clinical interview that went beyond the characteristics indicated by a computer-based personality test would probably benefit students. Since it is the only method to “know the nature of why personality measures correlate with real-world outcomes,” the college counselor should seek the necessary training to conduct qualitative evaluations with students (Kumar, 2016, p. 19).
American Psychological Association. (2017, January 1). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, Section 9. Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/ethics/code/
Elliott, J. & Grieve, R. (2013). Cyberfaking: I can, so I will? Intentions to fake in online psychological testing. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 16(5), 364– 369. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0271
Groth-Marnat, G., & Wright, A. J. (2016). Handbook of psychological assessment. Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Kumar, U. (2016). The Wiley Handbook of Personality Assessment. Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Lent, R., Morris, T., Penn, L., & Ireland, G. (2019). Social-cognitive predictors of career exploration and decision-making: Longitudinal test of the career self-management model. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 66(2), 184–194. https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000307
Montalto, M. (2014). The Ethical Implications of Using Technology in Psychological Testing and Treatment. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 16(2), 127–136. https://doi.org/10.1891/1559-43184.108.40.206
O’Neill, T., Lee, N., Radan, J., Law, S., Lewis, R., & Carswell, J. (2013). The impact of “non- targeted traits” on personality test faking, hiring, and workplace deviance. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(2), 162–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2013.02.027
Ones, D. S., Dilchert, S., Viswesvaran, C., & Judge, T. A. (2007). In Support of Personality Assessment in Organizational Settings. Personnel Psychology, 60(4), 995-1027.
Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/220138210?accountid=8289
Urbina, S. (2014). Essentials of Psychological Testing. Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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In this case study, you will analyze a testing scenario using your knowledge of testing and ethics.
Part A: Review the Case
A college counselor for a large university helps students select careers matched to their personalities. She uses computer-administered personality tests as the primary source of information. The counselor uses the assessment with all students who seek counseling. Qualitative interviews are not part of the assessment process.
Part B: Case Analysis
1. Describe your immediate reaction to the scenario. What are the details you immediately noticed? What questions did the scenario raise about testing?
2. Identify and explain 3 factors that impact performance on objective tests.
3. Identify and discuss 3 reliability and validity concerns with the scenario.
4. Identify and explain at least 3 ethical concerns as per the APA Ethical Codes and how you would resolve the concerns.
Integrate 5 academic sources on psychological assessment to support your position.
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