Two Ethical Issues Associated with Psychological Testing and Their Impacts
Two of the largest ethical issues in psychological testing are informed consent and confidentiality. Informed consent involves a variety of considerations which allow for ethical decision making and practices when administering psychological tests. Informed consent is rooted in the ideas of autonomy and self-determination. It is assumed that patients must be able to make informed decisions concerning their participation in tests. This is especially true in situations where the participant may be mentally impaired of to young to understand the testing (Pope, Sonne, and Greene, 2006). It is important that the clinician inform patients and those who are the legal guardians.
The other large issue is confidentiality. This value encompasses many aspects of testing such as maintaining private communications whether written or oral. For example, confidentiality needs to maintain the privacy of the client in order to guard the integrity of the testing. Both confidentiality and informed consent work to increased the credibility of psychological testing because they provide standards which can be trusted by clients and potential clients. Without confidentiality and informed consent it would be difficult to obtain clients for testing since the process could not be trusted. As well, the testing process would lack credibility among professional peers.
Two Legal Issues Pertaining to Psychological Testing and Their Effect on Testing
A major legal issue associated with psychological testing is the issue of bias. Tests which are biased against race, gender, nationality, or religion are considered illegal. This is known as discriminant validity. According to Hogan (2007), this form of “evidence showing that performance on a test has a relatively low correlation with measures of constructs expected to have a low correlation with the trait of interest” (Hogan, 2007, p. 653). This can present serious legal issues if a test of this nature is used in a hiring process because it can violate a person’s civil rights and create litigation.
Another large legal issue associated with psychological testing is the issue of accommodation. A psychological test must be modifiable for individuals with disabilities in order to make it fair and equal. Test which are not able to accommodate individuals can be considered discriminatory and biased. This presents serious issues for the use of tests such as this in the workplace or in placement in colleges. This type legal boundaries impact psychological testing by making testing more objective and with a stronger adherence to ethics.
How Court Cases Impact Psychological Testing
Psychological testing has been at the heart of many court cases. Testing for college admission has been a focal point of these cases especially where affirmative action law is concerned. Employers have been accused of filling quotas by lowering standards for hiring. Those who argue this point, state that people hired from minority groups often lack the qualifications required for the occupation. An example of this problem can be seen in the case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in which an applicant was denied entrance to the University of California on the basis of race. The applicant was white and the University only accepted a limited number of persons to the medical program. Because the University was trying to fill quotas in their affirmative action program, the white student was excluded admission even though he had higher grades then all of those admitted under the affirmative action program (Fullinwider, 2009).
The student won the case and the Supreme Court ruled, “The Constitution can tolerate no “two-class” theory of equal protection…” Essentially, the Supreme Court upheld a decision that affirmative action must work without excluding on the basis of filling quotas. This forced psychological testing to become even more stringent in order to avoid bias and stereotypes.
Fullinwider R. (2009). Affirmative Action. Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved (2009, September 14) from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/affirmative-action/
Hogan, T. P. (2007). Psychological testing: A practical introduction (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Pope, K.S., Sonne, J.L., & Greene, B.G. (2006). What Therapists Don’t Talk About And Why