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Psychological tests and measurements

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What are psychological tests?

Psychological tests (also known as mental measurements, psychological instruments, psychometric tests, inventories, rating scales) are standardized measures of a particular psychological variable such as personality, intelligence, or emotional functioning. They often consist of a series of questions that subjects rank as true or false, or according to a Likert-type scale (agree, somewhat agree...), however tests can use written, visual or verbal methods.

Many tests are commercially published. One well-known commercial test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Commercial or published tests may need to be purchased from the publisher, and publishers may require proof that users have the professional credentials to administer the test.

In addition to commercial tests, there are countless unpublished tests that researchers design for particular studies in psychology, education, business and other fields.

Access to psychological tests

Please note that full access (the measurement + scoring key and/or manual) to most clinical Psychological measures is not available to student researchers. Access to clinical tests is often restricted to Registered Psychologists only (those with a PhD in Psychology), to the clinical Psychology graduate students they supervise, and other professionals in health and counseling fields. Restricting access to tests helps ensure the validity of tests, including their persuasiveness when reported upon in a legal context, and reduces false diagnoses and misapplications by non-professionals.

In addition, there are also often publisher-imposed copyright and licensing restrictions (e.g., prohibitions on reproducing tests) which further restrict access.

Commercial psychological tests/measures require a fee to access them, and some (particularly in Business) may be prohibitively expensive for students. You will also likely require professional credentials to access them. However, library resources provide helpful descriptive and evaluative information about commercial tests.

Unpublished/non-commercial tests are free to access, but you may require permission from the test creator(s) to use or obtain the test, and access may be restricted, depending on your credentials.

Information about both commercial and unpublished and psychological tests is amply available, including journal articles that discuss the application and scoring of a particular test. In many cases, you may be able to track down the test or measure itself of unpublished tests, but without the scoring key or manual. And indeed there still exists a selection of tests with scoring keys that are available to general researchers.

Tests at SFU Library

Search these databases to find:

  1. Descriptive information and reviews of both commercially published and unpublished tests
  2. The full text of a unpublished psychological test or measure (usually without the scoring key, with a few exceptions)

PsycTESTS (APA)

PsycTESTS provides information on over 27,000 psychological tests, measures, and other assessment tools. In many cases, the full-text of test instrument is provided. Scoring materials are rarely provided. Provides information on both commercial and unpublished tests. For non-commercial tests, you may wish to contact the test creator directly to inquire if further information can be provided directly to you. Contact information is often available via PsycTESTS.

Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print

Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print (TIP) searches the formerly print-only Mental Measurements Yearbook and Tests in Print content simultaneously. Tests In Print "serves as a comprehensive bibliography to all known commercially available tests that are currently in print in the English language".

  • Tests in print: Descriptive information on all known commercially available tests in English (also in print)
  • Mental measurements yearbook: Descriptive and evaluative information about tests (also in print)

Health and Psychosocial Instruments

Health and Psychosocial Instruments includes information on measurement instruments (commercial or unpublished) in the health fields, psychosocial sciences, organizational behavior, and library and information science. Links to journal articles that discuss a particular test.

Free tests in journal articles and books

Tests that have been published within books or journal articles will meet the needs of most students. Many articles provide information about tests, but only some of them include actual test instruments.

Journal articles

  • PsycINFO: Type "appended" in one of the search boxes and select Tests & Measures from the drop-down menu to the right of the search box. This will narrow your search to articles with tests appended. Use additional search boxes to add keywords.
  • ERIC (EBSCO): Type "tests/questionnaires" in one of the search boxes. and select Publication Type from the drop-down menu to the right of the search box to search for tests. Add keywords via additional search boxes.

You might also want to check:

  • Medline
    ​Useful MeSH (medical subject headings) include questionnaires, psychological tests, health status rating scales, psychiatric status rating scales, and personality inventory. You can also keyword search, e.g., depression and questionnaire.
  • CINHAL
    Enter an instrument name in the search box and select IN Instrumentation from drop-down menu for articles that used a particular test
  • ProQuest Dissertations
    Tests may be included as appendices to dissertations
  • Health and psychosocial instruments
    Links to journal articles that discuss a particular test (commercial or unpublished). Select Primary Source for citation to the original source for the instrument.
  • Directory of unpublished experimental mental measures. 8 vols, 1997 (print)
    Check index to find journal articles that describe tests of a particular variable, actual test may or may not be included in article.

For more detailed information on identifying tests on specific subjects see the American Psychological Association's guide:  Testing and Assessment.

The SFU Library does not maintain a print collection of standardized tests.

Books (online and print)

Some examples of SFU Library books that include tests

Note: There is no simple way to identify books in the Library Catalogue that include tests, but a subject search for either Psychological Tests or Psychological Testing is a good start.

Departmental collections

Gerontology students can access a collection of approximately 150 tests at the Gerontology Research Centre. They are located in the GRC Information Officer's room, available when the GRC is open. SFU Vancouver, 2800 - 515 West Hastings Street.

University of British Columbia holds a collection of standardized tests at the Psychoeducational Research and Training Centre (PRTC) within the Faculty of Education. Members of the SFU community can use this collection under some circumstances, but it is advisable to call first (604) 822-5384.

  Administering psychological tests

Many online and print books are available at SFU Library to give you background information on using tests and measures. Below are just a few examples:

Citing psychological tests

The APA blog outlines the format for citing a Psychological test or measure. APA prescribes the general APA syntax for citing a test or measure:

Who (Author) - When (Date) - What (Title) [format note] - Where (Place)

A Distinction on whether you are citing the database record for a test, or the test itself is made by writing [Database record] or [Measurement instrument] in square brackets after the test's title.

Note that older citations for print tests (pre-internet) can look exactly like the citation for a book. This can be confusing when tracking down citations. If unclear, you can trying search PsycTESTS or WorldCat to elicit more information.