Book Review: Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications & issues

By | 21st April 2015

Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications and Issues, 8th Edition.

Robert M. Kaplan & Dennis P. Saccuzzo
Wadsworth: Belmont, California, 2013, 639 pp, $189.95
ISBN-10: 1-133-49201-0 / ISBN-13: 978-1-133-49201-6

Robert M. Kaplan, Ph.D., Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, and Dennis P. Saccuzzo, Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University and Adjunct Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, present the 8th edition of their textbook, Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications, & Issues. This textbook provides the theoretical underpinnings of psychological test assessment.

Each chapter is laid out with learning objectives followed by a brief history of the subject, early theories on the subject, modern theories, examples of how to apply to modern research, issues relating to psychological testing, suggestions for how to correct error, and finishing off with a brief summary of the chapter – sometimes with a small section of practice questions. Chapters 1 to 3 review the basic statistics needed to understand test outputs, chapters 4 and 5 deal with reliability and validity, respectively, and the remaining 16 chapters explore test construction, test administration, ethical issues and applications of psychological testing.

Kaplan and Saccuzzo are thoughtful in their attempts to explain complex concepts, for example “reliability of a difference score”, describing each term in the formula, working through at least one example of the formula in use, and briefly summarizing the concept in simple language. There is an apparent awareness of how dense and abstract the material discussed is, demonstrated by the authors’ inclusions of multiple examples, summaries, and tables which further reduce the topic to the basic underlying principles. Examples are relevant to university students with repeated references to Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and their validity in predicting graduate student success. By using examples which the readers can relate, the concepts behind those examples become much more salient.

An understanding of reliability and validity is crucial when dealing with tests. Kaplan and Saccuzzo’s chapter on validity logically progresses from describing face validity, a superficial appearance of the items relatedness to the purpose of the test, to criterion- related validity, and ending with construct validity, which “many psychologists now believe…is the only major type of validity that need concern us.” (p.153).

Chapters 11 to 20 examine psychological assessments and their applications across a variety of professions and settings. Psychological tests are conducted in education, military, counseling, clinical, industrial/business, health care and forensic settings to measure intelligence, personality, aptitude, mental status and quality of life. All forms of tests are created and evaluated based on principles of reliability and validity, making this textbook applicable to a broad range of health professionals (e.g., psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists) who administer psychological inventories across the world.

This textbook is an especially valuable resource for graduate students and prospective health professionals interested in conducting and understanding psychological assessments. The diverse backgrounds of the Kaplan and Saccuzzo are a testament to the wide variety of settings which psychological assessments can be utilized in. The explanations are thorough, the structure of the text is well organized, examples are easy to understand, and the applications of testing beyond the discipline of psychology are clear. The result is a textbook which is intently focused on the readers and their comprehension of the material.

Review by: Katelyn Stewart