Psychological tests are often utilized by professionals in various spheres to achieve specific goals, ranging from population analysis to hiring decisions. In their essence, psychological tests are designed in order to tell others how a person thinks, perceives and understands a particular subject (Cohen et al., 2022). The inherent and acquired capabilities of people are diverse, allowing certain people to do specific tasks with ease, while others struggle. For example, some individuals may be fast typers, while other are quick and efficient readers. For one, solving a technical problem may be easy, while another is extremely skilled in writing reports. All of these skills, coupled with the psychological traits such as empathy, kindness, willingness to work as a team and many others can be accessed through testing. The main thesis of the work is that while psychological testing is used in many areas of human life, it is impossible to call such approaches truly reliable or effective in producing necessary, consistent results.
For researchers, tests present a unique opportunity to get specific and well-organized data on a subject, while companies can utilize them to form teams within the office. However, it is also important to understand that psychological testing, and its wide use has a number of implications for society, and the people that use them. This work will focus on discussing, evaluating, and contextualizing the use of the Stroop test. First, the historic background and the development of the test will be discussed. Then, the work will cover some of the potential usage frameworks of the Stroop testing method. Ethical, social and cultural issues concerning the use of psychological testing will be covered as well.
The Stroop test is named an experiment of the same name, first conducted by John 1935. Traces of similar experiments can be found in the scientific community, however, Stroop’s attempt ended up being the most prolific (Green, n.d.). In the experiment, participants were exposed to the names of different colors, being written in differently-colored ink. The color of the ink used and the names of the colors were deliberately mismatched, creating a cognitive challenge for the participants.
The experiment mainly consisted of participants having to name either the color of the font or read the words out loud, while fighting the confused caused by colored ink. As a result of this experiment, it was found that the correlation between the word and its color has significant influence on people’s ability to correctly recognize it (Green, n.d.). In cases where the color of the text matches the word, participants generally named the word quicker. In samples where the colors differed, however, participants took longer to answer correctly instead. While the original experiment constituted three different samples, only one of them was later incorporated into a test, and still remains relevant today. The Stroop test uses differently-colored color names, and requires participants to read the name of the color they are presented with (Scarpina & Tagini, 2017). The test assesses the individual’s ability to keep attention, process new information and other data processing abilities (“What the Stroop effect reveals about our minds,” n.d.). In addition, the test clearly demonstrates people’s ability to focus on certain sources of stimuli, while ignoring others.
The Stroop test is commonly utilized in a variety of scenarios, including psychological, educational and workplace settings. In various psychological studies, this test can be effective in assessing the effect of different intervention strategies on one’s cognitive function. In particular, the influence of education, training, dietary choices, sleep, exercise or any other type of influence can be contrasted against a person’s capacity to quickly finish a Stroop test. Research has revealed that the test is widely used in the field of sports psychology, analysing the effects of different exercise on the people’s cognitive ability (Takahashi & Grove, 2020). For other settings, the test can be an indicator of the participant’s mental capabilities, a way to determine their suitability for a particular position.
Many principles that are embodied by the test are vital in successful business organization and management. For example, the ability of a person to focus on the necessary details while ignoring any unnecessary or secondary information is important in completing projects on time, planning, managing tasks and budgeting (“Improving business performance – The Stroop test,” 2020). By demonstrating their capability to concentrate on what’s important, workers can become great assets to their company. Furthermore, it is also a great tool for practicing response inhibition.
As stated in the article concerning the use of Stroop in business, the constant need to check one’s email or an inability to ignore certain stimuli considerably hinders work progress. By being trained in ignoring unwanted distractions, individuals can be more productive and focused in the business setting (“Improving business performance – The Stroop test,” 2020). In both business and education, Stroop testing can be utilized in preparing people for what they must do. Research has shown that regular practice of the inhibition tests is helpful in improving one’s performance. Therefore, Stroop’s test can be extremely beneficial in raising the cognitive function of younger and older adults (Burger et al., 2019). The majority of resources concerned with using Stroop’s testing agree that regular application of this tool is an effective way to both test people’s inhibition skills and improve them.
Issues of Using Psychological Tests
Despite their widespread use, psychological tests have a variety of issues associated with them. In particular, concerns of ethical soundness, social and cultural effects of such tests must be considered. In a psychological setting, the use of any tests must occur only with regard to specific guidelines, which ensure that individuals are informed about the procedure. The principles of informed consent apply to this process, where a psychiatric professional must inform their client about the details of a test, how its results will be used, and what evaluations will be performed (Arslan, 2018). Additionally, clients reserve the right to confidentiality, and to receive the results of any test or assessment. Most of these rights are regulated through legislation, barring specific exceptions. Socially, tests also have a number of serious implications. Many tests are utilized in the hiring process for organizations, as well as decision-making, educational and evaluation purposes.
However, most tests that are aimed at assessing a person’s inherent qualities, capabilities or skills are unreliable, and can often relay partially correct information to their users. As a result, their use in any official capacity should be questioned (“Social and technical issues in testing: Implications for test construction and usage | Buros-Nebraska series on measurement and testing | University of Nebraska – Lincoln,” n.d.). In addition, most tests can be tampered with or prepared for, altering their results and outcomes for any individual. The social effects of widespread test use are unclear, and there is high potential for reaching the wrong conclusions through careless use of tests. The cultural dimension of this topic must also be considered. Tests are typically developed and evaluated using specific groups of people. However, the norms, practices and habits of people can vary significantly from population to population. If a test was developed without a consideration for a difference in culture, class, or understanding, it is likely to display incorrect results. This trend is most evident when comparing testing assessment results from while people and people of color. Many modern tests are designed with the white population in mind, unable to account for differences that come from race, ethnicity, different life experiences or upbringing. As a result, minorities consistently perform worse on psychological tests and assessments (Herera, 2018). In addition, many of the problems that are highlighted by psychological tests, such as mental health issues, are more prevalent in minority populations, affecting the results.
In closing, it can be said that psychological testing is an important and irreplaceable part of society. They are actively utilized in therapy and medical assessments, the workplace, and scientific research, among many other applications. The Stroop test, in particular, is useful in testing people’s reaction speed and capacity for selective attention. With the information acquired in testing, organizations and professionals can make better decisions and understand people more thoroughly. However, it is also important to remember the many potential pitfalls of psychological testing, primarily pertaining to their non-universality. The setting and audience for a test must be evaluated thoroughly in order for its results to be true and reliable. Furthermore, ethical considerations must be met to ensure personal confidentiality and autonomy. By using tests responsibly and understanding their limits, its possible to extract the most value out of them.
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