Psychological Testing Limitations of Norms Paper

Psychological Testing Limitations of Norms


The main purpose of the paper is to study and analyze the psychological limitations of norms. Within the contemporary society, we can monitor a wide range of different norms that are considered to be the standards chosen by the members of the society. These standards have to be indicators of what is acceptable and what is not when talking about how to live a life. Within psychological testing, when the researchers interpret the scores of the tests, they often use norms. In psychological testing, norms can be defined as the average results within the particular group of people. These norms depend on the specific human factors and therefore there is a series of limitations on norms within psychological testing. It is essential for the researcher to be able to reconcile limitations with the interpretation of scores as they influence the outcome, as well as to be able to properly evaluate the results of testing. There is a serious number of norms that affect the observation of the testing scores, hence the limitations play an important role for the final interpretation of the scores of tests. It is essential to properly use norms and limitations of norms in the psychological test interpretation. That is why, this topic is extremely important for the research.

The psychological test norms consist of data that gives the possibility to define comparative position of the individual who took the test (Murphy & Davidshofer, 2005). Norms in psychological testing play extremely important role as they provide the basis for the norm-based interpretation that gives the opportunity to compare the results of the individual with the average scores of the researched group of people. This interpretation type is essential as it allows evaluating how the results of the individual can be compared to the results of the group that fits the norm standards. In order to establish norms, tests are taken within the large group of the population that is seriously selected to represent the proper population that is planned to be researched.

There are different types of norms. The first one to be mentioned is the percentile rank norm. This type of norms is commonly used in the psychological test interpretation as it gives the researchers a very simple scale of the results ranked from 1% to 100% that is easy to use and interpret. The scores therefore may be ranked from the 1st to 99th percentile and the average results may be situated near the 50th (Hunsley & Di Giulio, 2001).

Another type of norming is represented by the age norms, which are also extremely popular. Their usage is quite important for the psychological testing as they allow the researchers to evaluate the individual depending on his age. Owing to age norms, it becomes easy to interpret the results of the test. The same refers to the grade norm that allows establishing the grade level of the individual. It gives the opportunity to reveal whether the results are lower, higher or the same as the average from the level of grade category.

All these norms are widely used and suitable for the series of researches. However, each of them has reasonable limitations that are well documented; hence, it is important to study and analyze them. For the percentile rank norm, it is essential to underline that there has to be more concentration on the individual as the norm gives no information about the group and the individual. People that take the test can make mistakes, lie, mix up the answers, make emotional decisions or be subjective in some areas, but the researcher cannot take this into account in case if there is no information concerning the group and the individual (Maloney & Larrivee, 2007). There also are some limitations on the age norms. First, the range of scores of the individual is forgotten and not defined in case his score reaches the average level as these scores are more about representing the age at which they are average. In addition, the individuals are compared with the unknown average representatives of their age that in fact do not exist, which promotes the typological thinking. Moreover, additional factors are not considered. For example, attention should be paid to the age when the individual went to school or entered the university since sometimes people of the same age study in different grades or have different life or work experience, which influences their answers. Talking about the grade norm, one of the limitations is the lack of attention to the additional factors that are connected with age. This limitation can be perceived as negative since such aspects are integral. Another limitation is the lack of information on the results concerning the performance of the individual who has taken the test (Maloney & Larrivee, 2007).

As it can be seen, all the norms have particular reasonable limitations even if they seem to be quite useful and widespread (Rodriguez, 1997). However, the limitations can have the benefit that frames the interpretation process in case they are properly analyzed and brought into conformity with the process of the psychological testing score evaluation. The truth is that the limitations may make the norms more complicated, but they help to make the evaluation more objective and trustworthy. The limitations are connected with the human factor that is extremely powerful within psychological testing. The implementation of certain norm limitations support the high quality of the research and the interpretation of the scores. Age norms can be improved in case if there is the evaluation of individuals that fall under the average range category. The percentile rank norm can take into account more detailed data, and the grade norm can pay attention to the age of the individual.

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Norms play highly important role within psychological testing, and therefore they are important for the interpretation of the testing results. Nevertheless, there are always certain limitations to each norm. Even the most commonly used and easy norms have the series of limitations. It is important for the researcher to understand them in order to be able to make professional interpretation of the test scores. Although the limitations may seem to be the burden for norming, it supports the objectiveness of the scientific research. The contemporary psychological testing seriously depends on norming, which justifies the importance of limitations. If the limitations are properly analyzed and taken into account, the interpretation of the scores of the tests will be trustworthy and extremely useful for the scientists involved in the sphere. They will represent the real situation within the defined group of people and properly characterize the test taker.

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