Objective test

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This article is about the term as used in psychological testing. For the general subject, see Quantitative research.

An objective test is a psychological test that measures an individual's characteristics independent of rater bias or the examiner's own beliefs, usually by the administration of a bank of questions marked and compared against exacting scoring mechanisms that are completely standardized, much in the same way that examinations are administered. Objective tests are often contrasted with projective tests, which are sensitive to rater's or examiner's beliefs. Projective tests are based on Freudian Psychology (Psychoanalysis) and seek to expose the unconscious perceptions of people. Objective tests tend to have more validity than projective tests; however, they are still subject to the willingness of the examinee to be open about his/her personality and as such can sometimes be badly representative of the true personality of the subject. Projective tests purportedly expose certain aspects of the personality of individuals that are impossible to measure by means of an objective test, and are much more reliable at uncovering "protected" or unconscious personality traits or features.

An objective test is built by following a rigorous protocol which includes the following steps:

  • Making decisions on nature, goal, target population, power.
  • Creating a bank of questions.
  • Estimating the validity of the questions, by means of statistical procedures and/or judgement of experts in the field.
  • Designing a format of application (a clear, easy-to-answer questionnaire, or an interview, etc.).
  • Detecting which questions are better in terms of discrimination, clarity, ease of response, upon application on a pilot sample.
  • Applying a revised questionnaire or interview to a sample.
  • Using appropriate statistical procedures to establish norms for the test.

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