How is a psychological assessment

Position of the test within psychology

Tests are the branch of psychology Differential Psychology to be assigned to that sub-area that the German psychologist and philosopher William Stern (1871-1938) was introduced. She deals with the Differed in the experience and behavior between individual people or between groups of people, tries to describe these and to trace them back to their conditions. Differential psychology became more important the more psychology was applied in everyday life (e.g. in schools, in clinics, in courts, etc.).

People often behave very differently in the same situations due to their different expressions of skills, needs and emotions. In order to be able to predict behavior, general principles and individual personality structures must therefore be taken into account. Differential psychology therefore tries to determine the typical expression and interaction between several psychological characteristics (e.g. intelligence, feelings, needs, etc.) for certain age groups, genders, occupations, etc.

Psychologists in science and practice often have it with their work differential questions to do, whereby this activity can be subsumed under the umbrella term of psychodiagnostics. Under Psychodiagnostics one understands thereby the totality of those psychological procedures with the help of which the personality of a person can be grasped. In addition to the various test procedures, the methodological inventory includes the anamnese, the exploration, the Behavior observation and the Behavior analysis. These methods are used by people with psychiatric and somatic-psychosomatic illnesses, in parenting and marriage counseling, in school psychology services, in forensic matters, in career counseling or in aptitude tests. The examination is carried out with standardized material, in most cases with psychological test procedures.

For details, see The psychological test

What is a test?

To put it simply, a psychodiagnostic test is a standardized scientific routine method for measuring psychologically important, definable characteristics of a person. They are primarily used to quantitative determination the relative degree of individual characteristics, but can also qualitativestatement enable via individual characteristics of features. Psychodiagnostic tests can be used as a means of cross-sectional diagnosis, for longitudinal diagnosis and as a research method

Usable test procedures must meet certain requirements, which are usually referred to as test quality criteria:

  • objectivity
  • Reliability (Reliability) and
  • validity (Validity).

Psychological tests must be standardized, i.e. they contain test instructions that prescribe how the test must be carried out and carried out. The same applies to the evaluation of a test, because this must also contain fixed rules so that different evaluators come to the same result (objectivity).

What tests are there?

There are various organizational aspects for tests, which can be based on both content-related (e.g. question, e.g. development, performance) and formal criteria (e.g. area of ​​application, e.g. clinical, school or occupational psychological procedures). A classic grouping is the one chosen here in

  • Intelligence tests: Measure general intelligence or a special talent in the field of intelligence. Intelligence tests are important regardless of their measurement method problems Aids the research and the psychological consultation. They are used in almost all areas of public life (school counseling, career counseling, etc.). your disadvantage consists in the fact that they cannot convey a correct picture of all human talents, but always only a part. Creativity, creative invention, social skills and artistic abilities are often not included, although they are of the greatest importance for success in life or at work. Although tests have also been developed for these areas, in many cases they are just as difficult to interpret as the definition of the characteristics measured with them. Most intelligence tests are designed so that individual Intelligence factors can be measured through a series of tasks of varying difficulty. Intelligence factors are, for example, language understanding, logical thinking, spatial perception, speed of perception, arithmetic and memory skills. The more tasks are solved within a specified time, the higher the level of the relevant intelligence factor. In this way two things can be seen:
    • the Total IQ (IQ), which indicates which position the person occupies within the comparison group
    • the Intelligence profilethat reveals individual strengths and weaknesses of a person's intelligence.
  • Performance tests: Motor, sensory or intellectual performance is measured. Performance tests measure a person's ability to perform. General performance tests record functional areas such as attention, concentration, tension of will, special performance tests test functions and abilities in the motor and / or sensory areas, measure spatial awareness, memory performance, etc. Most of these tests are designed to determine the reactive level of the quality of a skill that has been acquired through learning or practice. The test values ​​(results) result from the number of correct solutions (or errors), the solution time or the quality of the work. These tests are intended to measure the ability to concentrate and, as a rule, a special aptitude for a specific task. This is achieved by the position of Routine taskswhich then have to be resolved as quickly as possible (speed factor).
  • Personality tests: These test procedures are intended to record those characteristics of a person that cannot be attributed to human intelligence and capabilities, but to certain characteristics, attitudes, inclinations, interests, etc. The first scientific personality tests were published in 1919 by R.S. Woodworth and co-workers who used a questionnaire to study US soldiers in World War I. The classic personality tests include Personality questionnairesthat are most commonly used in research. In addition to the test procedures that work with questions and statements, the personality tests include the verbal supplementary procedures, the thematic apperception procedures (e.g. Thematic Apperception Test - TAT), the form interpretation tests (e.g. Rorschach test), the playful and graphic design tests, etc. The most well-known is the was developed by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach.

What are tests used for?

Psychological diagnostics are implemented in different contexts and thus with different objectives. The main areas of application are

  • Personality diagnostics (e.g. in connection with therapeutic issues)
  • differential questions (e.g. when selecting personnel)
  • diagnosis consequences of brain damage (e.g. in clinical practice)
  • Assessments of performance and suitability (e.g. in the school or professional classification)
  • research (e.g. as an explanatory variable for research results)

Anyone who does psychodiagnostics needs basic knowledge Test theory, Taking anamnesis, conducting discussions and regulating observation. Test procedures must therefore be mastered in terms of content and implementation. This also includes a critical evaluation of the procedures and a safe one interpretation of the results. Anyone who does psychodiagnostics must be able to integrate all information that accumulates in the course of a diagnostic process into a synthesis. Some of this can be learned theoretically during a relevant (mostly university) training, but practical experience is decisive. The acquisition and use of psychological procedures is usually linked to appropriate training or certified qualifications.

Speed ​​factor in intelligence and performance measurement

In humans, the speed of information processing is often the decisive yardstick for intelligence, which is also confirmed by the fact that some intelligence tests have a built-in speed factor. According to Vernon (1983), faster mental processing can lead to more knowledge and more experiences, which are stored in the memory and bring advantages in the future. However, some experts are of the opinion that it is not general intelligence but sub-constructs of intelligence and combinations of these constructs that provide the best prognoses for inter-individual differences in cognitive performance and real-life criteria, with the operational ability processing capacity (reasoning) being currently the best individual predictor has proven. Many studies that investigated the predictive validity of intelligence measures suffer from the fact that differentiated measurements of intelligence were dispensed with and only results for general intelligence are reported.

However, studies have made it clear that although knowledge is of outstanding importance for the prognosis of real-life criteria, knowledge is not necessarily superior to intelligence as a predictor, because neither knowledge can be completely compensated by intelligence nor intelligence by knowledge, but rather both groups of predictor are relevant to forecasting performance. Attempts to use the working memory functions and their capacity limits for explanation have proven to be fruitful, whereby the working memory functions such as simultaneous storage and processing, coordination and, in some cases, the supervision function could be determined as performance-limiting factors.



Stangl, W. (2000). Test and experiment.
WWW: (01-04-08)

Stern, E. & Guthke, J. (Eds.). Perspectives in intelligence research. Pabst.

Vernon, P.A. (1983). Speed ​​of information processing and general intelligence. Intelligence, 7, 53-70.

Contents overview of research methods in psychology and pedagogy

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