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Tests: Psychological Tests

I know the topic (like, personality) but I don’t know the name of a specific test. Where should I start?

There could be hundreds of tests out there, depending on the people you want to assess, and what you want to learn about them. So your first step is to find basic information about available tests, and narrow yourself down to a few that are REALLY worth your time and money.
If you're working on a simple assignment and just about any test will be helpful to you, start with:

  • Measures for Clinical Practice and Research, 4th edition. (Reference BF176 .C66 2007)

MCPR provides copies of hundreds of tests, mostly derived from scholarly journal articles. Each entry includes  reliability and validity information as well as the questions--just what you need for some professors' assignments. The only drawback to MCPR is that you generally will NOT find popular commercialized tests such as the Myers-Briggs personality test here. When using MCPR, be sure to consult the various tables of contents.

If you aren't satisfied with the MCPR, or you want to learn about other tests that are commonly used, there are other sources you can search. HOWEVER, these do NOT provide copies of tests. Instead, they will give you basic information, like the test name, purpose, population, scoring system, validity, price, and publisher (all of these books are in the Reference Collection):

  • Mental Measurements Yearbook (1938-present). (Z5814.P8 B932)
    • Search for tests online (you'll still need to use the MMY Reference books, but this online search should make it easier to find a test -- or you can buy one directly from MMY/Buros)
  • Tests: A Comprehensive Reference for Assessments in Psychology, Education, and Business, 1983-present. (BF176 .T43 1997)
  • Test Critiques (1984-present) (BF176 .T418)
  • Tests in print (1983- present) (Z5814.E9 T47)

Probably the Test Critiques and Mental Measurements Yearbooks will be the most helpful. The Tests in Print will help you find brief descriptions of tests, then you can search online for more information about them. Interestingly, searching Google for specific tests did pull up a lot of references, so you can search there or in the PsycINFO database.

If you find a helpful test in the MMY, Tests, Test Critiques, you must take steps to get a copy of that test. See the information on contacting test authors/publishers and other sections below.


What journals might be helpful in my search for tests?

Are there other resources for finding tests or test questions?

Yes. University researchers, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, consultants, and others sometimes develop their own instruments. If they have published a journal article, research paper, book, or web page about their research, a copy of the testing instrument might be included in the text or in an appendix.

So how do you search for this stuff? First, use a “directory” of tests published in books and journal articles.

  • One free, online source is Helen Hough’s Tests and Measures in the Social Sciences available on the University of Texas at Arlington’s site. This will refer you to more than 12,000 tests published in more than 120 different books. After you find a citation to a book, you can check TomCat to see if the Aquinas owns it.
  • If you don't find what you need on Helen Hough's web site or in the Directory, try these strategies:
    • Find a journal article or study that used tests for its research. There are two ways to do this:
      • Go to PsycINFO (a database available online to AQ faculty, staff, and students).
      • In the first search box, type in your topic or the name of the test (such as “personality” or “Myers Briggs”).
      • In the second search box, type in the word “appended,” and
      • In the second search box,  change the “Keyword” search to “Tests and Measures”
      • Then click on the Search button. Now, you should see a list of articles that include a copies of related tests attached.
    • If you can’t find an article that has an entire test “appended,” you can try to find research that used your test:
      • In the search box, type in the name of the test, and change the “Keyword” search to “Tests and Measures.” (NOTE: there’s no guarantee that the articles will include the test or test questions).
  • Find a book on psychological assessment for the topic or population that interests you. At AQ, you can find books by using the “Keyword” search in the catalog. Books on testing often have words like “assessment,” “instruments,” “measurement,” “researching,” “scaling,” or “testing” in the titles, chapter titles, subject headings, or description.
    • If you’d like to search for these items, type in broad keywords (like “personality,” “women,” or “intelligence”), and add words like “assessment” or “measurement” to your search.
    • Remember to “truncate” your search so that the catalog will find all forms of the root word. For instance, a TomCat search for “assess*” will find books that have “assessment” or “assessing” in the title.
  • Google. If you are looking for a SPECIFIC test (you know the name of the test and the name of the person or company that created it), you might be able to find a copy on the Internet. This is especially true for tests that were created or are used by governmental agencies. If you aren’t getting anywhere by searching the person’s name in, use Google Scholar. This limits your search to “scholarly” papers, articles, and web sites. Or, if the author teaches at a university, you can visit the university’s web page. You may be able to find his or her contact information in a campus “directory,” lists of “faculty,” or on the web page for his/her academic department.
    • NOTE: In general, you should NOT use Google to search for "personality tests" or other categories of instruments. Just about anyone can create a web page, and Google has no mechanism for sorting out reputable tests from all the junk that is out there!

Can you give me some search tips for finding test information?

Test instruments can be tricky to find. Here are the most common problems:

  • Some tests have abbreviations, popular names, and “official” or spelled-out names. For instance, one well-known test is referred to as the “MBTI,” “Myers-Briggs,” or the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” Try all these names in your searches.
  • If you're getting TOO FEW results in your search, try related words. For instance, if you’d like to measure problem-solving ability in 16 to 21-year olds, try similar words like adolescents, or high school, or teenagers. Or, look for broader terms than “problem solving ability” (like behavior, intelligence, or personality).
  • Try to limit your search. If you’re using a database and find TOO MANY results that seem irrelevant, the database might be searching the “full record” of each test (including every word mentioned in the description, critique, and bibliography!).  If you're using MMY online, try clicking on drop-down options (such as "Title" or "Author") to the right of the search boxes to search specific parts of each record.
  • Pay attention to ANY clues you find regarding the test, its author, or its publisher. If you can find them, take note of the corporation or university where the author works (including the name of the university and the academic department); the names of EVERY author who was involved in the development of the test; and the names, dates, and differences between alternative versions of the test.

How do I get in contact with the author or publisher of a test?

If you are using the MMY, a library book, or journal article to search for tests, you can sometimes find the test author's "institutional affiliation," e-mail address, or other contact information. It sometimes appears within a large reference book, it will usually appear within the entry; in a book, it is often on the back pages or book jacket; and in a journal article, it may be on the first or last page. If the information isn't available or is outdated, you can usually locate him/her by using a search engine like Google.

Be aware that contact information about test authors may be "buried" online in faculty, corporate, or governmental web pages. If you aren't finding the author by searching Google, BUT you know where he or she works, you can visit the university's or company's home page, find an online directory of faculty or employees, and search that.

If your test is distributed by a publisher, it can be tough to find the current publisher, especially for older tests. This is because smaller publishing companies are constantly being bought out by larger corporations. Here are some of the well-known publishers and their web sites:

How do I know whether this is a “good” or “bad” test? Is the test well-designed?

In sources like MMY, reviewers often discuss the “validity” of tests. According to the Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, validity is “the extent to which any measuring instrument measures what it is intended to measure.” Validity is an important indication of whether a test will be useful.

BUT as the Sage Encyclopedia explains, validity not only depends on the instrument itself, but HOW YOU USE the instrument. Even if a test is generally considered to be “valid,” it might not be applicable to the particular group, behavior, or situation you are trying to study (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004, p. 1171). At this point, the library doesn’t have staff with expertise to recommend or evaluate tests. It really depends on your project. So, contact your professor.

If I find a copy of a test, can I just go ahead and use it?

No. For one thing, some tests can only be purchased, administered, or interpreted by a licensed or certified professional. Even if you are qualified to administer the test, there are a lot of other things you may need to do first. These include, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:

  • Talking with your professor about whether the instrument is suitable for your project.
  • Getting the author’s/publisher’s permission to use the test.
  • Getting any training or certification that is required to administer the test properly.

Always consult with your professor.

Why do I have to pay for copies of some tests?

A test’s design is a piece of intellectual PROPERTY, analogous in some ways to how a car is personal property. General Motors owns a Chevy truck until the truck is sold to a dealership, or sold to you. In a similar way, the person or company which creates the test OWNS the test, until he/she/it sells it to someone else.

Taking this example a step further, GM can manufacture a car model and sell the same car to numerous people for a certain price. Similarly, whoever owns the test design can choose to “publish” it by printing and selling copies.

Even if you see a car parked on the street, you still have to ask the owner whether you can drive it. Similarly with a test, if you see it in a book, journal, or on the Internet, you still have to GET PERMISSION to use it on clients or research subjects. A nice person may let you use his or her car for free, but companies like Budget or Enterprise make you pay rental fees! Similarly, many test publishers will make you pay to use their tests.

I tried everything, and nothing’s working!!! What can I do?

Ask a librarian and/or your professor for help. A librarian will help you find information using tools in the Library, on the Internet, and other resources. On the other hand, you and your professor should work together in deciding which tests are most relevant to your project.

Psychology Liaison Librarian:
Christina Radisauskas
616 632 2124


Use Zotero to create citations in a particular format.  Be sure to choose the proper style (MLA, APA, etc) and material type (electronic journal, website, book, etc).  CAUTION: YOU are responsible for ensuring that your citations are formatted correctly.  This tool will help you, but is not perfect!