Tests of Special Abilities



Oftentimes, General Ability tests are not specific enough to have high levels of predictive validity within specific circumstances.


Psychological Tests all vary on the Bandwidth/Fidelity dimension



Bandwidth/Fidelity Problem :  Cronbach (1970)


       The broader the psychological test (bandwidth), the less precise the measurement will be (fidelity)


As bandwidth increases, the fidelity associated with that bandwidth decreases.


A test of "g" has greater bandwidth than a test of verbal ability, and a test of verbal ability has a greater bandwidth than a test of vocabulary.



Origins of Vocational Testing



The field of scientific management was responsible for the increase in psychological testing for employment purposes, following the advent of intelligence testing.


Schools such as the University of Minnesota developed tests of specific abilities in an attempt to match a particular employee to a job in which they would be successful.


They developed test of intellectual ability, spatial and mathematical ability, perceptual accuracy, and motor/dexterity tests, to name just a few.


The theory is that specific abilities are more representative of separate occupational categories than overall differences in "g" .


Vehicle Operators benefit from high Motor skills, and spatial and mechanical skills


Clerks benefit from high intellect and high levels of perceptual accuracy.


By giving tests specific to occupation, we hope to increase the efficacy of the selection process.



Problems with early measures of special abilities and occupational categorization.



The validity coefficients for these measures is typically only moderate, ranging from .14 to .40


However, remember that due to differences in base rate and selection ratios, even a test with a low validity may be useful to a large organization.


       Also, validity coefficients are typically higher when compared to job training performance, than when compared to actual on-the-job ratings.


       Additionally, these validity coefficients can vary due to gender, ethnicity, motivation, SES, and personality variables.


Remember that for large organizations, diversity as well as efficiency is a corporate goal in ensuring long term survival.



Performance Tests  vs.  Paper & Pencil tests


Mundane realism : the degree to which the experimental situation represents the "real world" correlate.


Paper & Pencil (or Computer Based Tests) usually have little mundane realism.


Work Sample Tests :require potential employees to perform a variety of behaviors which would actually be required by the job. Sometimes referred to as "job-replica" tests.


In-Basket Technique :  Used to evaluate administrators and executives, job candidates must process a variety of items commonly found in a managers in-box, such as memos, notes, directives, reposts, Faxes, and other letters which require some type of administrative action.

 Respondents indicate what action they would take to each item, and expert raters determine the efficacy of those actions, in order to assign an overall In-basket rating to the potential applicants.


Although we might think these measures have greater validity than Pen & Paper tests, respondents may perform differently on the test than in the actual situation (Hawthorne Effect)



A variation on the In-Basket Technique


AT&T was interested in determining which middle level managers to promote in the 1950's.


They developed an assessment center, which would systematically evaluate a number of managers over a several day period, and then assign a ranking system to guide the promotions of those managers.


Their assessment process involved the In-Basket technique, as well as additional measures :


Group Problem Solving Exercises, Interviews, and standard psychological tests.


The candidates are evaluated with respect to active participation, organizational skills, and decision making ability.


Because this is such an exhaustive evaluation, they used it for upper level promotion, rather than entry level job selection.




Other Tests of Special Abilities



Sensory/Perceptual Skills Tests


Single Purpose Instruments :


Smellen Wall Chart : Used to test visual acuity.  Found in every ophthalmologist's office in some form.


Audiometer :  Measure of auditory acuity, this machine reproduces tones at different frequencies within the range of normal human hearing (20 to 20000 Hz) . Often first experienced in elementary school.


Isihihara Test of Color Blindness  :  Each pseudo-isochromatic plate in this tests contains a pattern of colored dots which form a numeral, if someone with normal color vision views the plate.



A multipurpose visual testing instrument :


Bausch & Lomb Vision Tester : 12 visual tests assess four categories of vision :  Muscular balance of the eyes (vertical & lateral phoria);  Acuity in each eye, and both used together;  depth perception (stereopsis), and color perception.  



Tests of Psychomotor Ability


First introduced in the 1920's.


Fleishman (1972) identified 11 different psychomotor skills which could be tested.


Aim;  arm-hand steadiness; control precision;  finger dexterity; manual dexterity; multilimb coordination; rate control; reaction time; response orientation;  speed of arm movement; and wrist-finger speed.


Fleishman also noted that the reliabilities for psycho-motor tests was typically lower than reliabilities associated with other tests of special abilities.


The psychomotor tests he reviewed had average reliabilities ranging from .7 up to .88


One possible reason for this reduced reliability is that practice effects are very strong on psychomotor tests.


Predictive validity of psychomotor tests is poor, partially due to the influence of practice on the test scores.



Psychomotor Tests


Vary as to whether measuring Gross Dexterity, fine dexterity, or both. Females typically show better fine dexterity control than males.


Gross Manual Movements :  Stromberg Dexterity Test and the Minnesota Rate of Manipulation Test are two examples of psychomotor tests designed to assess speed and accuracy of finger, hand, and arm movements.


Fine Manual Movements : The O'Conner Tweezer Dexterity Test,The Purdue Pegboard, ands the Crawford Small Parts test  (which we demonstrated the first week of class) are three examples of psychomotor tests which use smaller parts to assess fine finger dexterity.


Combined Tests :  The Pennsylvania Bi-Manual Worksample and the Hand-Dexterity tests are two examples of psychomotor tests which assess both gross and fine levels of dexterity.  Both of these tests use nuts and bolts, which the test taker moves from one side of the board to the other.


The amount of time it takes to complete any of these psychomotor test is what is measured to assess the level of dexterity a particular applicant possesses.



Tests of Mechanical Ability


Although a certain level of dexterity is required for any occupation involving the manipulation of machinery, spatial perception and mechanical knowledge are important determiners of performance, in addition to dexterity based psycho-motor tests.



Males typically score higher than Females on these two test types.


This gender difference increases through high school, indicating a cultural component.  Hemispheric lateralization before birth also contributes to the Male advantage in spatial processing.


Research at the University of Minnesota in the 1920's led to development of three tests of Spatial Ability :


The Minnesota Mechanical Assembly Test :  a work sample test which required examinees to reassemble a set of disassembled mechanical objects.


The Minnesota Spatial Relations Test and The Minnesota Paper Formboard. : Two tests of spatial ability which required individuals to visualize and manipulate objects in three dimensions.



The Revised Minnesota Paper Formboard Test



This test is a revised form of the Minnesota Spatial Relations Test.


It contains 64 items, which contain one frame of geometric pieces and then five frames showing how those pieces might fit together.


The examinee's job is to pick the frame which correctly represents the assembled geometric pieces.


Test scores on the Revised Formboard tests correlate positively with grades in shop and engineering courses.


Test scores also positively correlate with supervisor ratings, as well as performance records in inspection, packing, machine operation in industrial settings.


Also interesting is that scores on this test are correlated with achievement in dentistry and art.


Testing Mechanical Comprehension



In addition to knowledge concerning visual processing ability, industry is also interested in the level of mechanical knowledge an employee brings to the work force.


The Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test (1980):  Test items consist of drawings and questions concerning mechanical relationships and understanding of Newtonian physics.


Test scores are moderately correlated with on the job measures of mechanical performance.


Separate norms are provided for each gender, reliability is lower for women than for men.



Specific Testing in Other Occupations


Administrative Assistants, inspectors, and other occupations which involve symbol perception :


Minnesota Clerical Test (1961) : A speed test which consists of 2 parts, Number Comparison and Name Comparison.  In each section, test taker must compare two letter or number strings and determine whether they match or don't match.


Scores on the Minnesota Clerical Test is moderately correlated with supervisor ratings of clerical work.


Clerical Abilities Battery :  A test battery designed to assess talent in seven administrative areas :


Filing;  Copying Information;  Comparing Information;  Using Tables; Proofreading, Addition & Subtraction; and Reasoning and Numbers.


Performance is compared to norms from specific clerical occupations.








Testing Computer Related Abilities


Since our economy has gone more and more "high-tech" , measures of computer aptitude and achievement have been developed to ensure hiring of individuals with at least a minimal level of computer related work skills.


One test designed to measure computer programmer aptitude is the :


Computer Programmer Aptitude Battery (CPAB) : this 75 minute tests contains the following sections :

Verbal Meaning;  Reasoning; Letter Series;  Number Ability; and Diagramming.  Experienced Programmers and systems analysts were consulted when these test items were constructed. Early studies indicate moderate predictive validity for the CPAB.


A test to assess whether someone has basic computer skills is the :


Computer Operator Aptitude Battery (COAB) : 

3 15 minute sections assess Sequence Recognition,  Format Checking, and Logical Thinking.

Norms are based on scores from experienced computer operators.



Tests of Artistic Ability :  Spatial perception tests such as the Revised Minnesota Paper Formboard Test and specific tests such as the Meier Art Tests  (which assesses Art Judgment and Aesthetic Perception); and the Graves Design Judgment Test.

       The Horn Art test is a performance test which requires the test taker to sketch common objects and geometric figures.



Tests of Musical Ability  :  One of the oldest tests is the Seashore Measures of Musical Talents, developed in the 1920's and 1930's.  This test used a series of tones and notes.


The Musical Aptitude Profile : Three basic musical factors :  Musical Expression,  Aural perception, and kinesthetic musical feeling,  are assessed by 7 subtests in three sections :   Tonal Imagery (test T),  Rhythm Imagery (Test R);  and Musical Sensitivity (Test M).   This test takes about two hours to administer and contains 250 original short selections of music.  No previous knowledge of musical facts or history is required, making ideal for school age children.  A three year longitudinal study of the Musical Aptitude Profile produced a correlation of .59 after one year of musical instruction and  .74 after three years of musical instruction.



Tests of Creativity



Although creativity would seem like an ideal trait to measure when attempting to find "visionaries" , studies of creativity have led to some conflicting results,  that is to say, creativity is not always positive.


Jameson (1984) : Studied prominent British Artists (novelists, painters, posts, sculptors) and concluded they were much more likely to have been treated for a mood disorder than the general population.



Andreason (87) Studied 30 college faculty attending a writing workshop.


80% exhibited depression or some other mood disorder

43 % were diagnosed as Manic/Depressives


MacKinnon (1962) stated that above average intelligence is necessary for creativity, but beyond that motivational and situational factors influence the appearance of this trait.


Tests of Creativity


Often try to distinguish between creative and "less creative" people by identifying when these two group diverge from typical thinking.  As a result, many tests of creativity use open ended sentences, making standardization of grading procedures difficult, thus driving down reliability and validity.


Consequences Test  (Guilford, 1954)  :  "Imagine what might happen if all laws were suddenly abolished? "


Remote Associates Test  (Mednick, 1962)  Find a fourth word which is associated with each of the se three words :  A. rat-blue-cottage;   B.  Wheel-electric-light;  C. surprise-line-birthday


Unusual Uses Tests (Guilford, 1954)  "Find as many uses as you can think of for A. toothpick;  B. brick, 

C. paper clip


Word Association Test.  (Getzels & Jackson, 1962) Write as many meanings as you can for the following A. duck,  B. sack, C. pitch



Creative Test Battery :  Torrance Test of Creative Thinking  (TTCT) : Three picture based exercises and 6 word based exercises  (Figural and Verbal).

Does a good job of identifying gifted students.




 Plan For Next Week  Nov. 2000



Any notes not posted on web site by Friday will be e-mailed to you as an attachment.


Monday : Optional Review for Thursdays Test.  I will concisely review all notes since the first exam.


Chapters covered are 6, 7, 8, 9 , and 14.


Criticisms of intelligence testing and achievement testing are most relevant sections of Chapter 14.


Test on Thursday, Nov. 2 :  Multiple Choice, similar in construction to first exam.


Please e-mail me if any questions arise while reviewing notes.