Online Psychological Testing
I find this scenario potentially troubling for many reasons; a psychologist’s priority is to not harm her clients, and providing a series of psychological exams online seems as if it could do more harm than good. The details that immediately catch my attention are that the motives of the psychologist seem to be to get foot traffic on her website and draw in more potential clients, and not the well-being of his or her clients or future clients. Another observation is that she is posting tests she has not recently researched since her graduate school days, before posting these kinds of tests she should do more current research. I also question the validity and reliability of the test she is posting, what source is she getting these tests from? If the test is flawed and a client takes the test, it could negative backlash on the client’s mental well-being. I also am concerned about her using the website in place of administering the tests in person; this could bring in a lot of false- positives or negatives and could taint the data she is trying to collect.
3 Factors: Understanding different psychological tests, Safety & Methodology, and Security & Ethical issues.
In this scenario, the psychologist is listing several different tests on her website that she learned about in grade school including the Inkblot test, an important factor in understanding the nature of the different psychological tests she is making available on her website. Committee on Psychological Testing (2015), states that to have an accurate and appropriate clinical conclusion such as diagnosis or treatment recommendations an important part is a clinical interview. This interview can be structured or open-natured, but the overall purpose is to identify the clients pressing issues and explore variables that may be contributing to them. Clinical interviews are important because it helps the psychologist better understand the needs of the client.
Clinical interviews are a part of the assessment process; another part is administrating formal psychological testing which could be surveys, tests, questionnaires, or a standardized interview. The psychologist needs to select the appropriate tests and to select the appropriate test the psychologist needs an understanding of the specific circumstances of that individual. A psychological test is categorized by the behaviour they were designed to measure, the administration, the scoring process, and how they are used are also important. Psychological test distinctions are based upon what they measure, some measure typical behaviour which is non-cognitive, and some measure maximal performance which is cognitive tests. Typical behaviour tests as questions that focus on what an individual would do in a particular situation, this measures personality, interests, values, and attitudes. Maximal performance test focus on problem-solving, these are tests focused on cognitive abilities (p.89-92). Committee on Psychological Testing (2015), continues to state that tests can be administered adaptive or linear fashion either by computer or an individual administrator. A test can be given in many ways such as orally, using a device, paper, and pencil, in a group, or individually. Electronic testing is a more recent popular tool being used, but all these factors should be based on who the respondent is and the appropriate method for that individual. The client could have a learning disability, or be a young child with limited language abilities, the psychologist might have to ask friends and family about that individual’s behaviour and personality (p.93). Within this scenario, the psychologist has to make sure the online test she is administrating is appropriate and truly serves the needs of her client, she must also be aware of test content, and that the person taking the test can understand it so that results are as accurate as possible. Safety & Methodology
Barak (2003), states that a debated issue is if test-takers should be allowed to take a certain test at home as opposed to being administered by a psychologist. The possible issue within this is that the psychometric test is designed to be given in a controlled environment and conditions. Web-based assessments allow people to take assessments in varying conditions such as at home or in a busy place, they could be having different physical issues such as being tired, alert, intoxicated, or in the presence of others and there are psychological factors that could play a part such as was the individual stressed, distressed, bored, or relaxed. The psychologist does not have a way of knowing the environment and circumstances when the client took the assessment(s). Some argue that these different variables could lead to greater ecological validity, if the assessment results are going to be used for important purposes the psychologist would have to make sure the results have not been tainted due to lack of standardization (p.227-228). According to Vallejo et al (2007), a study was conducted in Madrid, Spain using psychology students from two universities. There were 185 participants, they all had internet access at home, and they were given an online test at home and a paper-and-pencil questionnaire in person. 100 participants participated in the retest process 17 days after the online test. The results showed that both the online questionnaires and paper-and-pencil tests were fairly equivalent. This study showed that more research needs to be done to show if online assessment tools are just as effective as a person’s. Due to the growing popularity of online questionnaires about physical and mental health, these studies would be beneficial (p.1). Security is also an important issue to consider within this scenario. Naglieri (2014), there are different ranges of security from highly secure/restrictive to unsecured/permissive. The security implemented for a particular test must be appropriate based on the usage of the test. The secure test should have a three-tier server model, this type of model is designed where the servers are independent, those three servers should be the internet servers, a test application server, and a database server. Within the security of online psychological testing /assessments, the application server must be solely dedicated to the test application.
Another step in maximizing the security of the client’s information is having a separate data server with a secure firewall just for sensitive information. These factors help reduce the possibility of unauthorized intrusions into a client’s personal information. There should also be backup procedures in place especially if scoring and reporting services are being provided, a fourth server should be involved to minimize possible negative factors that could affect the test application data or access (p.153). These are just a few brief security suggestions and considerations when dealing with web-based evaluations, if the psychologist in this scenario Is not planning on implementing a sense of security for the test being administrated online she could potentially face ethical and legal issues.
3 Ethical Codes:
There are many potential ethical issues in this scenario. Naglieri (2014), continues to state that some ethical issues that one could face using web-based testing/assessments is 9.01 which is the bases for assessment, psychologist is supposed to base their opinions based on the reports and evaluations, 9.01c states that psychologists should only provide their opinions of the psychological characteristics of an individual only after they have conducted an appropriate examination. 9.02 discuss the use of assessments, it discusses how psychologist should administer, adapt, score, interpret, and use different techniques such as interviews and test in an appropriate manner and use the proper application of the techniques. 9.02.b states that psychologists should use assessment instruments that are valid and reliable, if validity and reliability have not been established the psychologist should be able to describe the limitations of the assessment. 9.02.c state that assessment methods should also fit the needs of the individual and their limitations and accommodations such as language preferences. Another potential ethical issue is informed consent 9.03, the issue with web-based assessments is that you can’t be sure of consent through electronic methods; it’s an impersonal method and is not fit for all individuals (p.157).
Validity & Reliability:
Current research shows that the Inkblot test is not considered a reliable or valid psychological test measurement, because it’s hard to determine the results from the test. Committee on Psychological Testing (2015), the issue with certain online psychological tests is that the scores from the test might not be stable or consistent. In order to establish reliability, the test must show consistency in test scores over time. When conducting online testing the psychologist would have to do a test-retest to ensure the reliability of the test, a potential issue is a test could generate reliable scores in one area/context and not in another, so it’s important to know what the test itself measures. Validity issues could be the interpretation and the use of the measure’s scores, for a test to be considered valid the interpretation has to be connected/grounded to psychological theory and empirical evidence. The test must have contained evidence of validity, which is the degree to which the test content represents a particular subject matter (p.96). In this scenario the psychologist is posting different tests on her website, the Inkblot test is stated to be a test used to measure thought disorders and helps identify mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. So the inkblot test measures a certain kind of mental illness and might not be effective in measuring other mental illnesses, the psychologist should do pre-evaluations to determine which online test her clients should be taking so that the test can be valid and reliable.
American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, amended effective June 1, 2010, and January 1, 2017). https://www.apa.org/ethics/code/
Barak, A. (2003). Internet-Based Psychological Testing and Assessment. In 959421928 746727200 T. Buchanan (Ed.), Online Counseling: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals (pp. 217-239). Academic Press.
Committee on Psychological Testing, Including Validity Testing, for Social Security Administration Disability Determinations; Board on the Health of Select Populations; Institute of Medicine. Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Jun 29. 3, Overview of Psychological Testing. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK305233/
Naglieri, Jack & Drasgow, Fritz & Schmit, Mark & Handler, Len & Prifitera, Aurelio & Margolis, Amy & Velasquez, Roberto. (2004). Psychological Testing on the Internet: New Problems, Old Issues. The American psychologist. 59. 150-62. 10.1037/0003- 066X.59.3.150.
Vallejo, M. A., Jordán, C. M., Díaz, M. I., Comeche, M. I., & Ortega, J. (2007). Psychological assessment via the internet: a reliability and validity study of online (vs paper-and-pencil) versions of the General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28) and the Symptoms Check-List- 90-Revised (SCL-90-R). Journal of medical Internet research, 9(1), e2. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.9.1.e2
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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 psychologist is redesigning a website to make it more appealing to clients. On the website, she lists several tests she learned about in graduate school. She also posts images of the tests, including the Rorschach inkblot cards. She plans to use the website in place of administering these tests in person.
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 projective 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 at least 4 academic sources on psychological assessment to support your position.
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