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Psychological Testing in the Workplace Essay

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Updated: Jan 20th, 2020

The need to retain employees in organizations has led to extensive use of psychological testing. The testing process involves measuring several human traits that, in one way or the other, affect people’s capability to contribute to the success of any given organization.

The testing is crucial in both employee selection and retention processes, and it really assesses an individual’s ability to perform at the workplace. The testing process is valid and has been found to contribute positively to both the organization and the employee (Spector, 2008).

Psychological Tests used at the Workplace

Psychological testing involves use of specific questions to assess certain human characteristics and traits such as knowledge and skills. The tests also involve measuring certain personality types and interests. The application of the tests varies from one company to the other. Some companies use printed questions while others use online portals in their websites to reach current or prospective employees (Spector, 2008).

Personality Test

This test targets specific personal behaviors that may affect an individual’s capability to perform in certain specific jobs. It targets individual tendencies and, therefore, results in abundant information on the predictability of an individual’s behavior.

In order to ascertain the best candidate for certain positions in an organization, it is important for the organization to carry out an assessment on the personality types of the interviewees. The expected results vary from one kind of job to another. For example, a ranger may need to possess emotional stability traits so as to successfully deliver on the organization’s goals.

Emotional Intelligence Test

This test is aimed at ascertaining the ability of a person to handle emotions. It is highly dependent on a person’s state of emotion development, but not on his/her cognitive ability. The relationship that develops between a person and those around him or her is usually influenced by the person’s emotional intelligence.

This test is, therefore, valuable in ascertaining an individual’s ability to relate well with others at the workplace especially if he/she occupies a managerial position. These tests are very important in the solution of social conflicts and hence can be used in behavior prediction at the workplace.

Integrity Test

This is usually employed during the identification of integrity levels in a person, and it results in the patterns of behavior being quantified. This may facilitate the prediction of dishonesty behavior among the employees. This test has the capability of exposing sabotage and unethical behavior that may affect the performance of the employees. Personality integrity, which is one form of integrity test has been found to be successful in predicting employee cooperation at the workplace (Messick, 2005).

Psychological Testing for Pre-employment or Retention

Apart from being used in employee selection, some tests are crucial in employee development processes. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tests, for example, are used in employment performance evaluation to enhance advancement.

Pre-employment situations may demand the application of both emotional intelligence and integrity tests to ascertain the preparedness of the prospective employees to occupy positions in the organizations. It should be noted that when the selection process is carried out effectively there is always a higher retention rate (Spetor, 2008).

Validity and Reliability Issues of Psychological Testing

Psychology tests that are liable and valid contribute positively to the success of organizations. Reliability refers to the consistency of the results while validity on the other hand refers to the accuracy in measurement of parameters. In order to enhance reliability, it is important for several items to be included during the test of a given personality trait. This will ensure that misinterpretation as a result of one item is avoided (Anastasi, 1997).

The validity of Emotional Intelligence Test is still contested by various experts in the field. This is because of the argument by some researchers that it may also involve measuring cognitive abilities of the individuals (Spector, 2008). On the other hand, the validity of Integrity Tests in predicting theft in organizations is still doubted. This is because of the fact that most thieves in the organizations get away without being caught. This makes it hard for an organization to ascertain dishonesty in employees.

Ethical Issues in Psychological Testing

Techniques used in psychological testing have become specialized over time and have therefore been considered to invade people’s privacy. The invasion is promoted by the fact that most organizations openly communicate private information about the employees and thus failing to honor confidentiality agreements. Many employees are usually objected to the idea of communicating the results as it is usually done by most organizations (Boyle, 2006).

There have been objections stating that the tests are usually very few and, in most cases, misused by the people in the management of the organizations. The misuse involves using certain tests in a biased manner against people of certain disadvantaged cultural groups (Anastasi, 1997). It should be noted here that the American Psychological Association provides that, the people who accept to take tests have rights that organizations must strive to respect (Boyle, 2006).


Organizations that use psychology tests appropriately are likely to get and/or retain the best employee workforce. Although the validity of some of the tests is still questioned by some psychological researchers, a large percentage of companies apply them on a large scale.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is applied widely regardless of the fact that it has the least proven effectiveness (Boyle, 2006). It is important for the various researchers that engage in studying the psychological tests to go an extra mile in studying the ethical issues associated with the tests


Anastasi, A. (1997). Psychology, Psychologists, and Psychological Testing. American Psychologist, 67(4), 27-36.

Boyle, G. J. (2006). Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): Some Psychometric Limitations. Australian Psychologist, 70(4), 51-54.

Messick, S. (2005). Personality Measurement and the Ethics of Assessment. American Psychologist, 50(3), 13-26.

Spector, P. E. (2008). Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Research and Practice. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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