Psychological Construct and Test


Psychological constructs are abstract variables that can include personality traits, attitudes, and emotional states. Constructs cannot be directly observed as they involve internal processes and tendencies of thought or feelings. These are commonly identifiable phenomena in human nature such as fear, motivation, or extraversion. In psychology, measurements referred to as psychometrics, do not follow traditional scales of enumeration or instruments. In order to measure such complex and abstract components, psychologists must develop specific scales that would adequately determine an individual’s position in regard to a specific psychological construct. Measurement should follow a systematic procedure that assigns scores based on the representation of characteristics that are studied (“Research methods in psychology,” 2016).

The latent nature of psychological constructs leads researchers in the field to engage in what is known as construct validation. It is a rigorous process that attempts to establish a level of validity and scientific method to the psychological process in order to avoid scrutiny. The process begins with identifying and defining a construct, along with outlining or developing a theory based on its structure. A means of measurement is then selected, which is commonly a variation of the Likert scale that attempts to quantify qualitative research. This clearly establishes a measure to represent the construct and begins the process of evidence generation to validate the construct (Flake, Pek & Hehman, 2017). Latent variable measurement is fundamental for validation and support of psychology research.

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Psychological Test

A psychological test is a systematic methodology for obtaining samples of behavior in relation to the cognitive, interpersonal, or affective functionalities of an individual. Tests are then scored to evaluate the samples in accordance with standards. These samples are subsets of the larger human nature and are selected for practical psychological significance. Tests are standardized and can provide objectivity to the psychological evaluation process by ensuring a level of planning and uniformity in order to guarantee fairness. Standards are applied so that there is a common method or criteria to compare and evaluate results. A psychological test is an instrument that can have various forms, including but not limited to questionnaires, surveys, inventories, or checklists. The subcategories of tests are developed with the specific purpose of eliciting information from an individual. Information is psychologically based, and each type of test commonly has specific approaches to determine motivations, attitudes, opinions, stimuli, or preferences of a person being tested. It is important to recognize that psychological tests are tools that are used as a means of achieving an outcome but do not necessarily define the outcome itself (Urbina, 2014).

Psychological tests hold significant value, particularly in clinical settings, as a methodology to identify a condition and guide treatment. A psychological test provides a psychologist with direct data but also numerous inferences which can contribute to competent interventions. For example, factors that can hinder therapeutic treatment or the ability to learn in psychotherapy sessions can allow clinicians to adjust treatment focus using tailored interventions to achieve better outcomes (Bram & Peebles, 2014).

In addition to their diagnostic benefits, psychological tests hold significant theoretical value in achieving an understanding of psychopathology. Some tests, particularly the well-known Rorschach test, have advantages in determining the psychological state of an individual better than traditional psychiatric examinations or interviews. First, tests do not include the patient personal or medical history. Therefore, the interpretation is not burdened by previous diagnoses or particular expectations, allowing to make an unbiased evaluation of data. Furthermore, tests are more formal at the collection of information, organizing data on thoughts, feelings, and reactions of subjects. Generally, subjective experiences can be narrowed down and presented with formal characteristics (Shapiro, 2012). These benefits of psychological tests contribute to deriving theoretical value from their results.

Measurements and Scale

A time in my life when a test score had a significant impact was the standardized national exam that had to be taken in the last year of high school before applying to university. The SAT was a reasoning test that consisted of three distinct sections of reading, mathematics, and writing. Although the test required some knowledge of the subject concepts, its primary focus was on measuring the level of logic and reasoning that a student possesses. The non-writing sections consisted of multiple-choice questions where students gained points from correct answers and lost for incorrect ones. Results are then converted to a scale ranging from 200-800 for each section for a maximum combined score of 2400. The score was compared to other test takers on that date to determine one’s percentile, and many colleges had specific scores that they require for admission. The scoring system for this test seemed relatively unfair since it penalized for incorrect answers and answers left blank, often forcing students to guess. Furthermore, the format of the exam was specially designed in a way that favored coaching and preparation rather than testing actual knowledge and reasoning.

An α level of 0.05 indicates that with this significance level, there is a 5% risk of incorrectly rejecting the null hypothesis. It defines the distance that the sample statistic should be from the null hypothesis value before it is determined to be varied enough to reject it. A value of 0.05 is standard for many scientific studies. Therefore, 0.01 is a 1% chance, 0.001 is 0.1%, 0.10 is 10%, and 0.20 is 20%.

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The distance between towns would be measured at the significance level of 0.20 since distances can vary significantly amongst a large sample with evident differences to measurements. Intelligence measured by an IQ test would best fit with the α level of 0.05 with the assumption that mean differences are distributed normally. Ordering by height in a class would follow a 0.05 significance level as the standard for this sample size and focus of study. The numbering of individuals based on eye color can use the 0.01 level of significance as they would fall either into the first three categories or the last one as having the “other” color.

The standard (z) score is calculated with the formula

The standard (z) score

Therefore,

The standard (z) score

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For the T-score, used in education, the mean is scaled to 50, using the same formula. Therefore,

The standard (z) score

These score calculations can be helpful in calculating the raw score or comparing tests with different scales for large-scale exams such as the SAT that was described for the personal experience.

Self-Esteem Construct

The selected psychological construct is self-esteem. It can be defined as the manner that people perceive or evaluate themselves, contributing to an individual’s emotional and behavioral state. Self-esteem is a broad concept that includes a view of self, evaluation of self-worth, descriptive characteristics of self-image, and perception of self-efficacy. Merits of high self-esteem have been accentuated in a variety of fields, including education (Lohan & King, 2016). Self-esteem is a construct that influences a large number of various aspects regarding human function and well-being. The benefits of high self-esteem range from physical health or better psychosocial state which helps to better cope with stress and achieve greater interpersonal and professional success (Edmondson, Arndt, Alcantara, Chaplin, & Shwartz, 2016). Self-esteem is formed through relational interactions with others which may depend on mutuality, cultural aspects, and emotional connections throughout an individual’s life and experiences.

All human beings have some level of self-esteem. It is usually measured as either being high or low. Persons with high self-esteem exhibit significant levels of confidence and self-belief in themselves and their actions. They perceive themselves as valuable to their family, friends, or any other social circle due to the contributions and characteristics that they possess. High self-esteem is defined by recognition of personal strengths and a moral compass that guides them. These individuals are commonly leaders and are less influenced by the opinions of others. However, a healthy level of self-esteem allows one to recognize emotions in others, demonstrate humility, and be held accountable for one’s actions. Overall, people with high levels of self-esteem are optimistic and focus on progress and the future, rather than dwelling on the past and negative emotions. Negative thoughts and extremely low perceptions of self-worth are common for individuals with low self-esteem. They exhibit behaviors such as submission, excessive attempts to show off and hide flaws, and are easily offended by others’ opinions. Low self-esteem is associated with self-pity, judgment, and approval-seeking, and many other behaviors which stem from fear of rejection.

References

Bram, A. D., & Peebles, M. J. (2014). Psychological testing that matters: Creating a road map for effective treatment. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

Edmondson, D., Arndt, J., Alcántara, C., Chaplin, W., & Schwartz, J. E. (2015). Self-esteem and the acute effect of anxiety on ambulatory blood pressure. Psychosomatic Medicine, 77(7), 833–841. Web.

Flake, J. K., Pek, J., & Hehman, E. (2017). Construct validation in social and personality research. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8(4), 370-378. Web.

Lohan, A., & King, F. (2016). Self-esteem: Defining, measuring and promoting an elusive concept. REACH Journal of Special Needs Education in Ireland, 29(2), 116-127.

Research methods in psychology. (2016). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Shapiro, D. (2012). Theoretical vale of psychological testing. Journal of Personality Assessment, 94(6), 558-562. Web.

Urbina, S. (2014). Essentials of psychological testing. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Psychological Construct and Test
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