Psychometric tests are scientific techniques for determining or measuring an individual’s cognitive or mental abilities as well as behavioral characteristics (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2012; Nunnally, 2010). These tests are used to determine an individual’s personality, ability, motivation, interests, competencies and behavior. Cater (2010) say that psychometric tests are instruments that are designed to access the quantitative and psychological attributes of an individual.
Problems associated with psychometric testing in measuring intelligence
Intelligence is the ability of an individual to portray rationality, effective communication, ability to learn, problem solving abilities as well as understanding and perception of the elements in a given individual’s environment. It is a broad personality trait which can be defined in various dimensions (Raykov &Marcoulides, 2010).
There are qualities that determine a good psychometric test from a poor one. The structure, flexibility and application of the tests determine that which will give quality results from that which presents poor results. A properly constructed test is always reliable and free of bias while the opposite is true of a poorly constructed test. Apart from poor construction, there are other problems that can arise in a psychometric test to render it useless or less useful. These are the problems that face psychometric tests.
Complex nature of individuals being tested is among the difficulties psychometric tests face (Cripps & Spry, 2010). Individuals posit varying characteristics while taking these tests. The intelligence tests thus might be appropriate for some individuals but be completely out of place to another set of individuals. Psychometric tests testing for intelligence should therefore be modeled in such a manner that they can be flexible enough to be altered for a given set of individuals. Tests should not however be used as the sole determinants of an individual’s intelligence.
Intelligence test can also be affected by culture. Cultural stereotypes for instance can significantly affect an individual’s performance either negatively or positively (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2012). The values and norms of different cultures can also clash and present biased information. Members of different social classes may have preconceived notions of each other and thus affect the validity of an intelligence test.
There instances when those individuals that perform poorly in the intelligence tests perform exceptionally well in real life situations (Raykov & Marcoulides, 2010). This presents another difficulty in explaining the rationale behind these individual’s performance in the tests and their performance in real life situations. Psychologists posit that poor emotional and psychological conditions of certain individuals at the time of doing the tests may be the reason why they perform poorly at the intelligence tests but perform well in real life situations.
Test manipulation is another difficulty that faces psychometric intelligence tests (Rao & Sinharay, 2006). In a scenario when the test takers have prior information about the actual questions to be tested, then the test loses its validity. The test takers will obviously get answers from various places and approach the test with memorized answers. Since these tests are meant to determine the spot on intelligence and the strategic thinking techniques of individuals, then the test would lose its validity.
Errors in test administration affect the reliability and validity of a psychometric intelligence test (Raykov & Marcoulides, 2010). If unprofessional individuals administer the tests, they might wrongly interpret the results leading to serious errors. There are those individuals who completely rely on the results of these tests rather than using rationality in analyzing the results. This is a major difficulty in terms of application of the tests. There varies other difficulties but which if properly and professionally analyzed can be solved.
The individuals being examined may incorrectly interpret the literature used in particular psychometric tests. Tests that try to determine an individual’s mastery in a particular language may especially face this challenge (Austin, 2009). In a case scenario where an individual takes a psychometric intelligence test in a second language, that individual may incorrectly interpret the vocabulary or fail entirely to understand the vocabulary used. In such a scenario, the intelligence test is more than likely to posit incorrect results.
Sternberg (1986) assert that individual’s in the general population have different perceptions of intelligence. It is therefore impractical to measure individual’s intelligence by one dimension. This is a flaw in psychometric intelligence test. There are various aspects in an individual person that can portray an individual’s cognitive ability. Individuals also vary in their abilities. Considering two individuals, one may portray a higher ability in language mastery while another may portray an exceptional ability in arithmetic (Gardner, 2007). Sternberg thus proposed The triarchic theory of intelligence that try to assess an individual in various capacities.
Advantages of psychometric intelligence tests
Psychometric intelligence tests are usually objective (Raykov & Marcoulides, 2010). The examiner or the administrator is thus prevented from influencing the results of the test. The results thus portray to higher degree the ability of the person being tested.
There are set universal standards for psychometric tests. The consistency of these standards thus provides high probability of obtaining accurate results. Individuals’ results are always compared to the universal standards thus the low probability of getting incorrect results. The margin of error is thus minimized significantly.
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