Ethical and Legal Issues and Multicultural Considerations in Testing

Ethical and Legal Issues and Multicultural Considerations in Testing

Discussion Question 1

Ethical and Legal Issues

Importance of Ethical and Legal Standards for Testing

The purpose of testing is to gather relevant information about an individual. Like many professions, psychology is guided by laws and ethical standards. Laws regulate who can perform what type of test, in which settings, and with which clients. Additionally, in the area of assessment, myriad policies and procedures regulate who can be tested, under what circumstances, for what reasons, and who is qualified to administer and interpret the assessments(APA, 2011). However, despite the controls that exist within the area of assessment, there is still tremendous room for judgment on the part of the professional regarding these issues. Responsibility for final decisions regarding conduct rests with the professionals themselves. In the absence of laws, policies, and procedures, ethical standards form the basis for appropriate and professional behavior. Codes of ethics outline guidelines for standards of professional behavior, and it is essential for professional counselors to be familiar with and follow these standards in order to provide high quality, and professional deductions from particular tests. The APA came up with the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct to guide professionals in this field(APA, 2010).

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Necessary for Competent Test Use

Competency is an expected level of performance that integrates knowledge, skills, abilities and judgment. The APA has focused on the qualifications of the professional who use psychological tests, in reaction to concerns that doctoral programs were providing insufficient training related to statistics and measurements and a qualification. As defined by the APA, the term test user refers to “the combination of knowledge skills, abilities, training, experience, and where appropriate, practice credentials” considered desirable for responsible use of psychologicaltests(Turner, DeMers, Fox, & Reed, 2001, p. 1100). Some of the competencies needed for competent test use include: psychometric and measurement of knowledge (descriptive statistics, reliability and measurement error, validity and meaning of test scores, normative interpretation of tests, and test administration procedures); ethnic, racial, cultural, gender, age, and linguistic variables; testing individuals with disabilities; and supervised experience.

Turner, DeMers, Fox, & Reed (2001, p. 1100), identified the need for psychometric and measurement knowledge as one of the key competence a test user should have, they add that this involved having knowledge on descriptive statistics; a command of reliability and measurement errors (issues of test score reliability and measurement errors as they relate the test being used); knowledge of validity and meaning of test scores, normative interpretation of test scores; ability to select the appropriate test; and knowledge of test administration procedures.

Standards Regarding Confidentiality and Privacy of Test Taker Information, Test Scores, and Test Interpretation

The APA ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct(APA, 2010) devotes some of its standards to matter related to privacy and confidentiality, test scores and interpretation of tests. One of the standards is informed consent (Standard 9.03). This standard states that psychologists can obtain informed consent from the client, and it will comprise of the nature of the assessment, fees, the role of third parties, as well as the limits of confidentiality. However, several situations may obviate the need for informed consent, such as when testing has been mandated by law. With regards to test scores, standard 9.04 guides the psychologists on the handling and release on test data. It postulates that psychologists provide test data, defined as item responses, scale scores, and notes, to only clients, or any other person as specified in the client release document. It is worth noting that psychologists may choose not to release test data to protect clients or others from harm or misuse of data. In the absence of a client release, the psychologist is only allowed to release data only as required by the law or court order.

With reference to test interpretation, psychologists are been guided by standard 9.06. When interpreting test results, they are directed to consider the purpose of the assessment, together with the contextual factors related to test-taking and the test taker, which might affect the accuracy, or direction of the interpretation.

Most Important Responsibility of a Test User

Personally, I am of the opinion that the most important and principal responsibility of the test user is to ensure that he or she maintains the highest level of professionalism in the course of administering the test and subsequent use and dissemination of the results. I think it is imperative that the test user maintains the highest level of confidentiality and ensure that the test taker is comfortableand unperturbed about the information that he will give to the psychologist.

Discussion Question 2

Multicultural Considerations in Testing


According to Turner, DeMers, Fox, and Reed (2001, p. 1102), considerations of variables such as ethnic, racial, cultural, age, and linguistic variables play an imperative role in influencing the psychological test to be employed. The American Psychology Association (1990) also comprehended the importance of these differences and hence established guidelines for providers of psychological services to diverse populations based on their cultural, ethnic and linguistic differences and stated that there was a need for psychologists to understand these differences so as to provide appropriate psychological services.

Article Discussion and Analysis

The population I have chosen for this assignment is the Hispanic populace. The related article is titled “Detection of Malingering in a Spanish Population using Three Specific Malingering Tests” written by Vilar-Lopez, et al., (2007, pp. 379-388). The article identifies the need for different tests to be used in different population groups. The authors stated that studies made on the employment neuro-psychological test in ethnic groups for which they were not premeditated or designed for have reflected variations in performance associated with differences in culture background. They studied a Spanish population by applying the Victoria Symptom Validity Test (VSVT), Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM) in a group with post-concussion syndrome (PCS) and in a group of Analog Malingerers (AN), which they considered as the most applicable and appropriate for a Hispanic population. The author found that these tests seemed to function adequately in that Spanish population.

ConsiderationWhen Selecting a Particular Test, Administering a Test, and Interpreting Test Scores for this Population

Individual scores grounded on tests purportedly measuring and gauging the same construct in different cultures cannot be interpreted at face value. The effect of cultural backgrounds in measuring the individual psychological construct requires to be explored in order to facilitate adjustment of measurements to make them more meaningful and applicable to the specific culture and to get corresponding or comparable measures across different cultures.

Vijver and Phalet (2004) identified the need for considerations to be taken when choosing the test to be administered to a particular population group. Theystate that the problem in the assessment of multicultural groups springs from the possible dependence of the outcomes on the level of adjustment. That is, it may be that a western instrument of filial piety did not apply well among recent immigrants, but becomes more applicable and appropriate with the level of adjustment of that population group. For the purpose of the article population choice; the Hispanic population, the most important factors to address would be the language factors, and the length of their stay in the country of they are immigrants.

A key consideration is language. There is usually therequirement for manifold language versions of the tests, and questionnaires as well as surveys. A test written in English cannot be projected to generate a sound measure of anidentical construct in a Spanish population. In order to allow for the same starting point for both the Spanish and English candidate in ending the test, it ought to be revised and made available in different languages.

It is also important that during test administration and administration of test scores various bias strategies be avoided. This can range from construct bias, method bias or a mix of construct bias and method bias, and finally item bias.


In conclusion, the diversity of the population provides a challenge to test users to be more keen and sensitiveto differences in the target group as failure to do this will result to deductions from the data findings that are not reflective of the true situation. This may result to the test user making analyses and conclusions that are not only incorrect and amiss, but also conclusions that may affect the test takers in negative and severe ways.



American Psychology Association. (1990). Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Populations. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from American Psychology Association:

APA. (2010). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from American Psychological Association:

APA. (2011). Testing and Assessment. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from American Psychological Association:

Turner, S. M., DeMers, S. T., Fox, R. H., & Reed, M. G. (2001). APA’s Guidelines for Test User Qualification: An Executive Summary. American Psychologist(56), 1099-1113.

van de Vijver, F. R., & Phalet, K. (2004). Assessment in Multicultural Groups: The Role of Acculturation. APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW, 53(2), 215-236. Retrieved August 2, 2014

Vilar-Lopez, R., Ramajo, S. S., Gomez-Rıo, M., Verdejo-Garcıa, A., Llamas, J. M., & Perez-Garcia, M. (2007, March). Detection of Malingering in a Spanish Popu;ation using Three Specific Malingering Tests. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 22(3), 379-388. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from ScienceDirect:

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