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Psychological tests allow psychologists to diagnose various disorders. Psychological tests can take various forms - they can be both a list of questions to be answered by the patient and a drawing prepared by the patient, showing his family. Certainly, psychological tests play a significant role in the diagnosis of mental disorders, some of them, however, arouse controversy - why?


  1. Psychological tests: what are they?
  2. Psychological tests: what are they about?
  3. Psychological tests: who does them?
  4. Psychological tests: types of tests

Psychological tests- it can be said that in his life every person has encountered them - they can be compared to the so-called psychotests that are commonly published, among others in the youth or women's press. In a way, psychological tests are even similar to various popular quizzes, but they are much more complex and professional - not without reason they are so often used in psychological diagnostics carried out by psychologists.

Psychological tests: what are they?

Psychological tests, available in many different forms (e.g. in the form of a list of several questions with "yes" and "no" answers or in the form of pictures that are to evoke some associations in the subject), are designed to define some psychological feature of a person. Currently, there are many different divisions of psychological tests, one of the most interesting is the one that divides the element of psychological diagnostics into cognitive tests and non-cognitive tests.

Cognitive testscan be determined by maximum ability tests. These include, for example, tests assessing the general level of human intelligence or tests of the patient's language skills. Within cognitive tests, there are tests that assess human abilities (i.e. what a given person is able to achieve at all) and tests that allow to determine the patient's achievements (in this case, it can be understood as e.g. what the patient managed to achieve by even going to school).

The second category wasnon-cognitive tests(tests of a typicalbehavior). Psychological tests of this kind assess significantly different aspects of the human psyche, such as motivation, personality, value system and attitudes adopted by people in everyday life.

The importance of psychological tests may be convinced by the fact that a related discipline of psychology - psychometrics - has emerged. It focuses on both theory and practical use of psychological tests.

Psychological tests: what are they about?

A "real" psychological test is definitely not a set of a few questions on the basis of which one can judge whether, for example, someone believes in supernatural phenomena. Psychological tests that are used by professionals must have several characteristics.

These features include:

  • test standardization,
  • objectivity of the test,
  • determining the norms for the test,
  • test validation,
  • reliability of the test.

These kinds of requirements set for psychological tests serve to ensure that they actually detect the existence of any deviations in patients or that it is possible to determine specific parameters in the subjects (e.g. intelligence or whether the mental development of the patient is consistent with that, which typically is observed in other people from a given age group).

Classically psychological tests are carried out in paper form, but more and more often, computer equipment is used for these tests.

Psychological tests: who does them?

The selection of psychological tests appropriate for the needs of patients and the supervision of their performance is carried out by psychologists. It is not uncommon (especially in psychiatric institutions) where a psychiatrist deals with the patient from a strictly medical point of view, and at the same time takes into account the results of psychological tests carried out by a psychologist. This kind of comprehensive approach to the patient's mental problems often significantly improves the effects of treating mental disorders.

Certain forms of psychological tests are widely available - patients can easily find them on the Internet. However, specialists recommend that you be careful when performing psychological tests on your own.

Psychological tests: what do you need to do to get them right?

A person who is going to undergo some kind of psychological test should be recommended one thing above all else: honesty. There are no right and wrong answers in psychological tests - so that their result is reliable and that they can contribute anything, whilein taking the test, one should answer the question in accordance with the reality. One example of a question in these tests that may lead to doubts when answering is "do you like to help others?" It seems right and consistent with social beliefs to answer in the affirmative, but if we really think otherwise - let's mark the answer consistent with our true beliefs.

The role of a psychologist conducting a psychological test is not to criticize either the morality or ethical principles of the patient, but only to supervise that the test runs as intended, and then to analyze the results obtained. Only honesty in answering will allow you to obtain a reliable test result - it is important primarily because the results may depend on, among others, the decision as to whether a patient requires any treatment, or whether their mental he alth is in any way abnormal.


Psychological tests: why should we be cautious about their online versions?

In a situation where we would like to take a psychological test (e.g. when we suspect the possibility of a personality disorder), it would be best to visit a psychologist. The online test - first of all - may be available in a limited version, so the result we obtained may not be entirely reliable. In addition, it is worth paying attention to the fact that the test result depends not only on whether we perform it properly, but also on its proper analysis. So it may turn out that, according to the test, we have some mental disorders that in fact … we do not have at all. Due to the above, it is best to actually perform psychological tests under the supervision of experienced professionals.

Psychological tests: types of tests

The role of psychological tests in identifying various mental problems is much greater than one might suppose. In fact, various scales, questionnaires and tests used by psychologists can be used to identify such units as:

  • personality disorders (e.g. in the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, MMPI-2 test);
  • neurotic disorders (e.g. in the so-called "O" symptom questionnaire);
  • autism spectrum disorders;
  • attention deficit disorder in the form of ADHD or ADD;
  • affective disorders;
  • dementia disorder;
  • eating disorders.

Only a narrow range of psychiatric problems are listed above,in which psychological tests may be important in the diagnosis - in fact, specific tests are available for each type of mental disorder.

The described psychological tools are not only used to identify mental problems - there are also psychological tests that allow you to determine:

  • degree of mental resilience (through the MTQ48 test);
  • intelligence level;
  • the child's school readiness level;
  • possibility to work in specific positions (such as, for example, bus driver or airplane pilot);
  • a career path that would be most beneficial for a given person (even young medical adepts sometimes undergo such psychological tests - they can answer the question whether a better solution for them will be to choose a surgical speci alty, e.g. surgery or it would also be more advantageous for them to choose a speci alty not related to manual work - e.g. psychiatry).
Worth knowing

Psychological testing: controversy over projection testing

One of the most interesting types of psychological tests, i.e. projection tests, has not been mentioned so far. A significant number of psychological tests are based on answering questions, and points are awarded for individual answers, the aggregation of which allows assigning the patient's score to a category. Projection tests, on the other hand, are definitely different. They can consist, for example, in the fact that the patient will complete the fragments of sentences presented to him (which is the essence of the Unfinished Sentences Test) or inform him what the presented images associate him with (as in the ink blot test, also known as the Rorschach test). A projection test may also be asking the respondent to draw, for example, a family, home or a human figure.

It is quite obvious that the interpretation of the projective tests is not easy. In the case of the ink stain test - when showing the same graphics to different people - one may be associated with a butterfly, another with a lion, and yet another with an image of a human. Projection tests are designed to extract a lot of information from the human psyche that we do not realize on a daily basis. However, they are highly subjective, both for the respondent and for the researcher - after all, two different psychologists may interpret the statement presented by the patient in a completely different way.

For this reason, projection tests should only be carried out by psychologists who have the appropriate certificates and are in contact with these tests on a daily basis. Projection testsin general, they are subject to quite frequent criticism - this is the case of the Rorschach test, which is even accused of being really pseudoscientific and the results obtained during it are in fact unreliable in the case of a wide variety of mental disorders. In turn, supporters of the ink stain test argue that there is evidence that it is possible to judge, inter alia, by the method of this test. about the patient's level of intelligence or the existence of personality disorders or attention disorders.

Psychological tests - even taking into account the alleged imperfections - certainly allow to reach deep into the human psyche. However, in order to actually be able to obtain the most reliable and at the same time useful for us result of these tests, we should carefully choose the psychologist to whom we go. Using the help of an experienced specialist will not only ensure that the appropriate psychological test is chosen for us, but also that its results will be properly interpreted.


1. "Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination. Overview of Psychological Testing", on-line access,

2. American Psychological Association Materials, Online Access,

3. Australian Psychological Society materials, on-line access,

About the authorBow. Tomasz NęckiA graduate of medicine at the Medical University of Poznań. An admirer of the Polish sea (most willingly strolling along its shores with headphones in his ears), cats and books. In working with patients, he focuses on always listening to them and spending as much time as they need.

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