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Psychological Testing: Ethical and Legal Issues Essay


What are at least two ethical issues associated with psychological testing? What impact do these issues have on the field of psychological testing?

Informed consent is one of the ethical issues that apply to psychological testing scenarios. Informed consent refers to a psychologist’s requirement to notify a patient how a particular psychological test or procedure would affect him/her. Informed consent requires a practitioner to maintain open communication with his/her clients throughout the testing process. Consequently, the individual who is carrying out psychological tests has to make sure that the test subject is well informed regarding the test, including its purpose, duration, and procedures (American Psychological Association, 2002). A test subject should also be made aware of how the institution of informed consent works. In cases where a test subject is not in a position to provide consent, this duty should be relegated to a legal guardian or another responsible party. Informed consent seeks to create grounds for mutual understanding between test subjects and psychologists. The institution of informed consent also endeavors to give test subjects a chance to opt-out of the testing process at any time.

Another ethical issue that applies to psychological testing is confidentiality. Ethically, psychologists are required to refrain from discussing or referring to the details of a test subject in forums that are not justified. Confidentiality is also covered in the psychologists’ code of ethics, which stipulates that “a psychologist must retain patient records in an efficient, effective, and secured environment to ensure any information is not compromised” (Hogan, 2007). Nevertheless, confidentiality stipulation can be overlooked by psychologists when a particular test subject poses a danger to others. In addition, test results can be released to other qualified professionals if the test subject agrees to it.

The issues of confidentiality and informed research have a significant impact on psychological testing because they restore public confidence. People are more willing to volunteer for psychological testing when they are assured that they have a certain degree of control over the process. Therefore, both informed consent and confidentiality restore public confidence in the institutions of psychological testing.

What are at least two legal issues associated with psychological testing? How do these issues affect the field of psychological testing?

Discrimination is a major legal issue in psychological testing. The main concerns on discrimination touch on human rights, gender policies, religion, race, and sexual orientation. The legalities that affect psychological testing in relation to discrimination are contained in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991. The overall legal concerns that touch on discrimination seek to caution individuals from being subjected to a discriminatory process that might undermine their welfare. Consequently, federal legislation “prohibits psychologists from using discriminatory processes in regards to the selection processes of individuals or the application of psychological testing” (Kaplan, R., & Saccuzzo, 2012).

Another legal issue that affects psychological testing is the accommodation of people with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the ADA, psychological testing must accommodate the needs of the individuals “who do not have the capacity to conform to normal testing environments or protocols” (Fitzpatrick, 2013). Under this requirement, people who have any type of physical deformities should be adequately catered for during psychological testing. For instance, people who have hearing disabilities should be catered for during psychological testing by ensuring that they are provided with sign language interpreters or hearing aids. This will ensure that hearing-impaired test subjects are not disadvantaged when they are compared to others with good hearing abilities. On the other hand, psychologists are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the special accommodations that are provided to persons with disabilities do not lead to unfair advantages during psychological testing.

These two legal issues have a profound effect on the field of psychological testing because they seek to protect the welfare of test subjects whilst maintaining the reputation of psychological research. The society needs to be assured of the validity of psychological research because, in the past, this institution has been faced with several legal and ethical issues. The legal restraints that apply to psychological testing also serve as authenticity stamps for psychology as a social science.

Which court case do you feel has had the largest impact on the field of psychological testing?

A number of cases have been taken before a judge with the view of identifying misdeeds in psychological testing. Two of the cases that have had a major impact on the institution of psychological testing are ‘Larry P. v Riles and Crawford v. Honig.’ These two cases were forwarded before a judge with the view of highlighting instances discrimination during psychological testing. The main issues that were highlighted through these cases included discriminatory practices that were related to diagnosing learning disabilities and faulty testing processes. The two court cases called on psychologists to ensure that they are thorough during psychological testing. In addition, the court cases highlighted various psychological principles such as intelligence testing and the biases that can be manifested through this procedure. Today, some of the issues that were being highlighted by these court cases would appear ridiculous to most people.

Both ‘Larry P. v Riles and Crawford v. Honig’ had a lasting impact on psychological testing because they were the first to highlight major oversights in the process. The aftermath of these court cases also touched on various other forms of testing, such as attitude and competency tests. The cases also highlighted the future of psychological testing as a social science of repute.

References

American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American psychologist, 47(1), 1597-1411.

Fitzpatrick, R. B. (2013). Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, 11(1), 2.

Hogan, T. P. (2007). Psychological testing: A practical introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Kaplan, R., & Saccuzzo, D. (2012). Psychological testing: Principles, applications, and issues. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Psychological Testing: Ethical and Legal Issues." June 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychological-testing-ethical-and-legal-issues/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Psychological Testing: Ethical and Legal Issues'. 21 June.

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