It is quite interesting to note that methods of psychological testing have evolved over the years to incorporate a variety of new practices, methods of evaluation and even treatment in regards to mental illness (Matarazzo, 1992). For example, what is known today as post traumatic stress disorder was largely undiagnosed in the past and had been primarily thought of us as being isolated to individuals who went to war.
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Today, it is generally attributed to instances involving a sufficiently traumatic event that can result in a “mental scar” so to speak that would require successive methods of psychological testing and evaluation to diagnose and treat. By understanding the historical underpinnings of psychological testing, we are able to come to the realization that as a field of medicine, psychology has experienced a considerable degree of trial and error due to complexities of the human mind (Yanovski, & Nelson, 1993).
Some of what was generally known as fact in the past is known as fiction today and vice versa. As such, through an understanding of past procedures we begin to question the effectiveness of present day processes and as a result strive to investigate whether alternative methods of evaluation, treatment and testing can be implemented so as to create a better scenario for the patient.
Necessity of Understanding the Historical Roots of Psychological testing
It must also be noted that by exploring the historical roots of psychological testing students are in effect introduced to the mistakes, ridiculous assumptions and often times bizarre types of treatments that were often utilized in the past to test and treat patients (Ash, 1971).
Through exposure to such lessons, students are in effect shown the evolution of psychological testing and how gaps in understanding and research often lead to flawed assumptions resulting in dubious if not highly unethical testing and treatment methods.
By understanding the necessity of a thorough understanding of intricacies of the mind, students within the field of psychological begin to develop the basic foundations of the ethical and scientific guidelines that are necessary within the field (Bizot, 1998). This helps to ensure that they avoid instances where they do more harm than good with the patients under their care through either misdiagnosis during testing or improper methods of treatment being implemented.
Developing an Understanding of Present Day Processes
From another perspective, it can actually be assumed that by understanding the historical roots of psychological testing students are in effect given a preview as to how present day testing procedures evolved and how they will continue to evolve in the future which should greatly influence how the field progresses in terms of its correlation to advances in scientific developments.
What must be understood is that by examining the historical roots of psychological testing, students will be able see how intertwined it is with advances in technological development. They will come to realize that as technology advances so too does it broaden our ability to understand the mind and that the present day means by which we understand and implement methods of psychological testing is inherently limited by the technological innovation that enabled such procedures to be developed in the first place.
As such, by developing the understanding that as a field psychology is still “incomplete” so to speak this enables the creation of the mindset that focuses on developing new methods of evaluation, testing and treatment based on a better understanding of the mind.
Ash, P. (1971). A History of Psychological Testing (Book). Personnel Psychology, 24(3), 539-543.
Bizot, E. B. (1998). Book reviews. American Journal Of Evaluation, 19(2), 255.
Matarazzo, J. D. (1992). Psychology testing and assessment in the 21st century. American Psychologist, 47(8), 1007.
Yanovski, S., & Nelson, J. E. (1993). Association of binge eating disorder and psychiatric comorbidity in obese subjects. American Journal Of Psychiatry, 150(10), 1472.