Year 2016 Paper 2, Q. 1(a). In what ways psychological tests are useful in assessing individual differences? Answer with examples. 10 marks, 150 words
Model answer by: Arun Kumar, Mentor, beautifulmindias.com
The approach : Being a short answer type question, you must answer it directly without adding introduction and conclusion. Any temptation for showing the extra knowledge will cost you. As the questions specifically asks to answer with examples, so you must give suitable illustrations.
The answer :
The common sense approaches to understand individual differences are as old as are the human existences . The common sense approaches however do not quantify and tell the difference precisely.
An anxious person, for example, expresses several behavioural symptoms that even children can notice. But anxiety is a normal emotion . To judge if the difference is serious enough for medical help, a psychologist must have some instrument to measure the problem quantitatively like we have a clinical thermometer to measure fever . Hamilton anxiety rating scale for example is one such scale that quantifies and measures the level of anxiety accurately.
Likewise, a very wide difference between the verbal and non verbal scores on Weschler ability scale shows high possibilities of mental problems.
The benefit of insanity is given to those who have committed some crime even when it is heinous. Can we afford to give it just on the basis of casual observation? Sensibly, we cannot. The psychological scale MMPI has been given legal validity as its assessments for such mental problems have high empirical validity and reliability.
Individual differences cannot be judged accurately only through clinical or casual examinations. Psychological tests are useful for high reliability, validity and interpretability with general population data .
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