Psychological Testing: What Is It, Types, and More

What is psychological testing?

Psychological testing is the basis for mental health treatment. These tools are often used to measure and observe a person’s behaviors, emotions, and thoughts.

Tests are performed by a psychologist who will evaluate the results to determine the cause, severity, and duration of your symptoms. This will guide them in creating a treatment plan that meets your needs.

Tests can either be objective or projective:

  • Objective testing involves answering questions with set responses like yes/no or true/false.
  • Projective testing evaluates responses to ambiguous stimuli in the hopes of uncovering hidden emotions and internal conflicts.

Both provide valuable insight into your symptoms and help psychologists see your overall level of functioning and distress.

Psychological tests can include formal, or “norm-referenced,” tests to measure your ability to comprehend different concepts. They can come in the form of checklists and questionnaires.

Each test measure ensures the reliability, validity, and objectivity necessary to avoid bias in scoring or interpreting your results.

During a psychological evaluation, assessments may also be used to help diagnose and treat mental health conditions. Assessments include standardized tests as well as informal tests, such as:

  • surveys
  • clinical interviews
  • observational data
  • medical exams
  • previous educational and medical history
Why is psychological testing needed or recommended?

Psychological testing can be recommended for a number of reasons including diagnosing mental health conditions and identifying troubling behavior.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the following symptoms may indicate that a psychological test may be needed:

  • increased social withdrawal
  • nervousness
  • changes in mood
  • difficulty completing normal tasks
  • a dramatic change in sleep and eating habits
  • problems with concentration

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. You can use our Find a Therapist tool for help.

Psychological testing may also be used by researchers or scientists to test hypotheses about a variety of topics that aren’t always related to psychology.

Other uses for psychological testing include:

  • screening job applicants
  • organizational development
  • academic placement
What types of psychological tests are there?

Psychologists use testing to examine a variety of factors, including emotional intelligence, personality, mental aptitude, and neurological functioning.

Here’s a more in-depth look at the types of testing available and the most commonly used tests for each category.

Type Tests and Measures
Personality tests Measure behaviors, emotions, attitudes, and behavioral and environmental characteristics
Test names: Basic Personality Inventory (BPI), 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire
Achievement tests Measure respondents’ intellectual interests, achievements, and cognitive abilities
Test names: Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery, Kaufman Test of Education Achievement (K-TEA)
Attitude tests Measure the kviews of respondents based on how much they agree or disagree with a statement
Test names: Likert Scale, Thurstone Scale
Aptitude tests Measure capabilities, skill sets, and projection of future success
Test names: Visual Reasoning Test, Abstract Reasoning Test
Emotional Intelligence tests Measure emotional responses such as anger, sadness, happiness, and impulsivity
Test names: Mayor-Salovey-Caruso El Test (MSCEIT), Emotional and Social Competence Inventory
Intelligence tests Measure mental/developmental learning disabilities
Test names: Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Universal Nonverbal Intelligence
Neuropsychological tests Measure cognitive abilities like memory, language, and executive functioning
Test names: Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Ammons Quick Test
Projective tests Measure feedback from external influences to identify unrealized emotions/conflicts
Test names: Rorschach Inkblot Test, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
Observation (direct) tests Measure immediate observable behavior; performed in a laboratory, clinical, or natural setting

When you hear the words “psychological testing,” all kinds of questions and thoughts may run through your mind.

What will they ask? Will my answers be considered right or wrong? If my answers are wrong, what will that say about me?

Don’t panic.

Psychologists use psychological testing in the same way medical doctors use lab work, X-rays, and physical exams: to determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend treatment, when necessary.

Psychological test to see how your relationship is

Which of the following wines do you like to drink? It is chosen intuitively.

A, beer

B, liquor

C, red wine

D, white wine

E, champagne

F, cocktail

G, don’t drink

Select analysis:

A, beer

If you like to drink beer, it means that you are easy-going and easy-going, can talk to anyone, have no shelf, easily get the goodwill of others, be social, treat friends with sincerity, and when friends are in trouble, you will reach out for assistance. Make friends very grateful to you, so when you have difficulties, your friends will help you.

B, liquor

If you like to drink white wine, you are very social, like to make friends, and have a wide range of contacts. As long as you look at the people who are pleasing to the eye, you will open your heart and socialize with them, and even put yourself out, but in the process of making friends, you should be eye-catching. To know people, not everyone is as true to you as you are.

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