What are psychological tests Dimensions types functions features

Psychological tests

In psychology, the assessment of the mental state of the subject who comes to the consultation or who requires our services is a necessary and essential element. In this article we will provide you the information about psychological tests.

Psychology professionals have a number of tools to carry out this assessment, including different types of psychological tests .

Concept of Psychological tests

It is considered psychological test for all that test, method or instrument used to evaluate or measure one or more of one of the different characteristics that are part of the psyche of the individual. Psychological tests are based on the observable behavior and on the expression of subjectivity of the subjects, in order to infer the subject‘s characteristics and mental state, requiring a subsequent analysis to be able to extract information with clinical significance.

Psychological tests try, as far as possible, that the information obtained through their performance is valid and reliable , trying to reflect what is intended to be measured (we must not forget that psychological characteristics are constructions that are not directly observable) and that they can be replicated by other professionals (i.e., that the information that one person obtains about a subject can be obtained by another professional if he performs the same measurement).

In the same way, the scores obtained need to be transformed so that they have meaning, being generally compared either with the mean obtained by representative samples of the population, with the previous performance itself or with a previously established criterion.

Based on this concept, several types of psychological tests have been formulated, created following different criteria and with different objectives .

Dimensions and types of derived psychological tests

When carrying out a psychological test, there are several aspects that we must take into account when evaluating what kind of information we want to obtain and how we are going to obtain it.

Some of the key dimensions to assess are as follows.

1. Structuring level

The different types of psychological tests can vary greatly, as information is requested in a more or less concise manner or the analyst is more or less free to express himself.

This aspect is essential to get the information . Having a very structured test will allow you to obtain short and concise answers, directing the evaluation to the aspects considered most relevant. However, a great deal of relevant information that could help to better adjust and understand the subject‘s mental state may be lost.

In this sense, we can find unstructured types of psychological tests (in which the content of the assessment varies according to the subject’s responses), semi-structured (in which, although freedom of response is offered and the questions vary depending on the information reflected, we try to follow a more or less predetermined script) or structured (in which, although the responses issued are taken into account, the assessment follows a predefined course)

2. Voluntary level

By voluntariness, we refer to the degree to which the subject has control over the emitted response. For example, if an electroencephalogram is performed, the subject has no control over the response he emits, while in some tests the subject can decide the type of response he gives.

3. Masking Level

Blinding is understood as the degree to which the subject knows the purpose of the test or test being administered and/or the connotations of their responses. In this sense, the tests can be masked (like the Rorschach test, in which the individual does not know what their answers mean) or not.

4. Level of objectivity

The level of objectivity of the data refers to the degree to which the answers are derived from the subjectivity of the patient or are empirical and visible data. In this sense, we can find different types of psychological tests , objective tests and subjective tests , although all measuring instruments can be evaluated in this sense.

According to the number of

When we think of a psychological assessment, we usually imagine a situation where a person is being analyzed by a professional, usually in the clinical or human resources field.

However, in these or other contexts, it is often possible to carry out a joint assessment of several individuals or even to carry out an assessment of a group as such. So that we can find:

1. Individual tests

These are the types of psychological tests in which a single subject‘s characteristics or performance are assessed. It is usually a test that requires a certain level of expertise to perform, and they provide a lot of information about the same individual. Likewise, it allows establishing a relationship with the evaluator that allows him to see and analyze various aspects that may or may not be included in the test.

2. Group or group tests

Collective tests are those that are performed in a group. They generally require a lower level of training for their application than individual ones. Although they save time and money , they usually involve some loss of information about the individual and evaluation by a psychologist or evaluator is very difficult.

Depending on the content

Tests can also be classified according to the type of mental content they are intended to assess . In this sense, we can find the following types of psychological tests.

1. Intelligence Test

Intellectual capacity is one of the most evaluated aspects throughout history. Its use aims to discover the potential and ability to adapt and use various strategies , along with the ability to store and use one’s own mental resources.

2. Skills test

But mental abilities are not just limited to intelligence, with many other characteristics that allow our behaviors to be more or less effective in one or more areas. Especially applied in personnel selection , this type of test reflects the ability in specific aspects of reality and allows predicting the effectiveness and performance of the subject.

3. Personality test

People tend to behave and see the world in a certain way, a pattern that we acquire partly by inheritance and partly according to our experiences during development. Measuring these patterns of behavior , beliefs, emotions and thoughts allows us to get an idea of ​​the way the person being evaluated is, as well as the way he usually sees or acts in the world.

4. Psychopathology tests

The presence of problems and even mental disorders is an increasingly frequent element in today’s society. Diagnosing these problems allows us to guide the individual on the different measures and treatments to be applied in order to solve the difficulties he suffers.

5. Neuropsychological test

This type of psychological testing is used to help determine an individual’s mental and perceptual state , usually applying to individuals who have suffered some type of injury. Therefore, the objective with which they are designed is the extent of possible damage to different types of mental processes.

6. Development / aging test

This type of test is used to assess the degree to which an individual develops over the life cycle , noting the presence of changes and comparing the degree of development against regulations.

7. Test of interest / professional vocation

They are based on the analysis of the subject‘s preferences, allowing their orientation in relation to certain goals or objectives . Usually they apply to young people who are going through adolescence or post-adolescence and who need to be guided to decide their formative path.

Based on performance criteria

Another key aspect when conducting a test is to consider how it will be evaluated. In this aspect, we can find two great types of psychological tests.

1. Maximum execution test

Peak performance tests aim to assess a person’s maximum potential in a psychological trait or aspect. Therefore, the efficiency of the individual is taken into account, the time required to complete a task is relevant and the measured characteristic is evaluated according to its correctness and speed. Objective and sometimes psychometric techniques tend to use this type of criteria, as in intelligence or neuropsychological tests.

2. Typical execution tests

This type of test is characterized by seeking to assess the subject‘s performance or typical characteristics in certain tasks or aspects, that is, what is usual and daily in the individual. The time required to complete the requested task is not interesting or meaningful in itself. Within this group, there are generally subjective and projective techniques , which assess aspects such as personality.

Pervin’s Rating

Taking into account all the above aspects, various authors have generated different classifications of the types of psychological tests throughout history. One of the most widespread and accepted classifications is that of Pervin , which considers the existence of the following categories.

1. Psychometric test

Psychometric tests are those used to measure specific characteristics of the psyche , such as intelligence or aptitude tests. It is one of the types of psychological tests that assume that individuals will respond sincerely, applying non-masked tests, in which responses are voluntarily controlled by the subject.

They are highly structured and are often used both in clinical areas and in work and education.

2. Objectives of the test

Highly structured, this type of test and tests are based on physiological correlates to measure a certain element. For this reason, the responses given are not voluntary and cannot be modified. However, the purpose of the test is usually clear, so it would be considered debunked. Different instruments and devices are used to record the individual’s responses, not depending on the rater for the record itself. Typical examples of objective testing might be the polygraph or biofeedback.

Within the objective tests, we can find:

  • Cognitive tests . Evaluate aspects such as attention, concentration or perception
  • test engines . Evaluate the performance of muscle responses to various stimuli
  • psychophysiological test . They assess the relationship between behavior and physiology in aspects such as breathing, heart rate, temperature, sexual response or digestion.

3. Subjective tests

It is the most common type of psychological test when measuring aspects of the subject‘s personality and experiences based on self-verifications or self-descriptions provided by the same subject, according to a series of items. In the voluntary response, the individual may attempt to falsify the information provided , although different reliability scales are often applied to detect such attempts. They are usually semi-structured and tailored to the specific objective or element being measured.

4. Projective tests

Subjective tests are often used to analyze deeper aspects and personality traits of the individual. It is the least structured type of psychological test, which does not restrict in any sense the response emitted by the analysand and has all the subject‘s responses with a valid meaning that must be analyzed and evaluated.

These responses are subjective, as they represent the internal world of the subject in question . The individual in question does not know the meaning or meaning of their answers, being one of the types of masked psychological tests. Each answer and aspect represented is important, but it only makes sense and can have meaning in relation to the whole.

The main problem with this type of test is the wide range of possible answers and their low level of standardization , being able to interpret the same answer from different points of view, according to the interpretation method used. He usually does not know the psychological meaning of his answers.

Within the subjective tests, we can find different typologies. Specifically stand out:

  • structural tests . In them, the patient must make sense and organize a visual material. One of the most famous is the Rorschach Test.
  • thematic tests . They are asked to tell a story based on the material presented on the sheets (the TAT or Thematic Apperception Test is generally the best known).
  • expressive tests . The subject is asked to draw a specific element (one of the best known is the HTC, test in which a person, a house and a tree are drawn)
  • constructive tests . The individual is asked to build a specific element with the provided parts (the Imaginary Village Test is a good example of this)
  • associative tests . In this type of projective psychological test, the analyst is asked to associate a word (orally or in writing) with another given word or stimulus. The word association test is one of the most used.
  • refractory tests . It is based on personality analysis based on the products of the subject‘s activity, such as his writing.

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