Historical Perspective of Psychological Assessment

There have been repercussions throughout psychology due to several historical events that affected the growth of psychological evaluation. Psychological testing has been involved in different ways in each of these events. We can now classify data using a variety of measurement scales thanks to these studies, and we can use the normal distribution to evaluate test outcomes.

Early History of Psychological Assessment

Emerging humanism began to shape how society treated people who struggled emotionally or mentally. This humanism led to a rise in research into the causes and potential treatments for mental impairment.

Diagnostic Esquirol and Mild Cognitive Impairment

As the eighteenth century got underway, many doctors started to differentiate between mental retardation and mental illness. The distinction was first formally articulated in literature by Esquirol (1772-1840). Language skills were the primary diagnostic criteria in the initial classification system he created for people with mental impairment.

Seguin and the Special Education of People with Mental Deficits

In the late 19th century, Edouard Seguin contributed to the rise of a new humanism toward people with mental impairment. The impact of Binet's preliminary studies on his analysis.

Binet and the Evaluation of Complex Thought

The first contemporary assessment of mental acuity was developed by Alfred Binet (1857-1911) in 1905. Before he focused on assessing mental capacity, Binet extensively studied and wrote. Binet contended that more complex mental operations, as opposed to simple sensory ones like reaction time, were more suited to gauging a person's I.Q. As such, Binet and Simon were asked to devise a workable method for identifying which students would benefit most from individualized education plans.

This resulted in the development of the first official I.Q. test for kids. The range of intelligence could be accurately measured with this scale. The goal was categorization, not quantitative research. The introduction of I.Q. testing and the use of updated scales. Binet and Simon updated their 1905 scale and released it to the public in 1908. The inclusion of the idea of the mental level was the most significant development of the 1908 scale. The concept of deriving a mental level was a revolutionary breakthrough that would shape the course of I.Q. testing in the 20th century (later mental age).

Psychological Evaluation in 20th Century

Intelligence geared for assisting in student classification in Paris's public schools. It is generally agreed that the creation of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale marked the beginning of a new era in the history of I.Q. testing. The following sequence of test development was seen.

  • In 1908, A.D. Frank Parsons establishes the Vocational Bureau of Boston to serve as a center for vocational counseling for young adults.

  • In 1914 A.D., when thousands of American recruits were screened for intelligence and mental stability, the field of psychological testing experienced a boom.

  • In 1919, Robert Woodworth created the Personal Data Sheet to aid in screening recruits for susceptibility to "shell shock."

  • In 1921, the Rorschach Inkblot Test was developed after Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach published his seminal book, Psychodiagnostics.

  • The first SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, was created and given in 1926.

  • In 1927, A.D. Carl Spearman published a two-factor theory of intelligence in which he hypothesized the presence of a general intellectual capacity factor and particular components of that general ability.

  • It is 1938 A.D., and intelligence testing has become a multimillion-dollar industry. As of 1938, there were over 4,000 psychological tests published in the Mental Measurements Yearbook.

  • The Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale, developed by David Wechsler and colleagues, was administered in 1939 A.D. to evaluate adult IQ. The most common instruments used to gauge a person's I.Q. today are variants of these tests, many of which have been published.

  • The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory first appeared in print in 1943.

  • The original Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children was released in 1949.

  • The 16PF Questionnaire, First Edition, was made available to the public in 1949.

  • When the original Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales were released in 1955, the world was introduced to a new way of measuring cognitive ability.

  • 1962 A.D. The Meyers Briggs Type Indicator is released with the help of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers (MBTI).

  • 1962 A.D. In his debut article on the topic, psychologist Warren T. Norman presents his Big Five model of personality.

  • The original version of the Self Directed Search (SDS) was released to the public by John L. Holland in 1970. We hoped that this checklist would aid people in zeroing down on occupations that are a good fit for their unique character traits.

Psychological Assessment in Recent times

The term "psychological functioning" refers to mental health and is evaluated objectively during a psychological examination. By comparing one's performance on standardized measures (in which all respondents are given the same standard or respond to tests administered in the same way) to a normative group (typically based on age), one can get an idea of how well one is doing in comparison to their age peers, which is considered an "objective" method of testing. (Consider the standardized tests kids take in class or before applying to colleges, such as the ii ACT or SAT.) The term "psychological functioning" is similarly vague, encompassing a wide range of supposed skills. When someone says "psychological functioning," it's useful to know if they mean intelligence and other cognitive qualities (including attention), emotional stability, or some combination.

Various tests can be undertaken, each with a unique set of goals and outcomes. To begin with, in a psychoeducational evaluation, the patient is often tested for a learning-based issue. Intelligence tests and academic performance evaluations are typical components of such testing (such as tasks involving math, reading, and written language).

The next step is to compare the individual's intellectual abilities to their academic skills; a specific learning disorder can be diagnosed if there is a significant gap between the two sets of abilities (where the academic ability is significantly lower than what would be expected for the patient's intellectual skills).

When school personnel have reason to suspect that a student is struggling academically due to a mental or neurological illness, they may conduct a psychoeducational evaluation. Private examinations are performed with a professional psychologist in a clinical (rather than academic) context.

These assessments may incorporate additional measures (such as classroom observations or parent/teacher questionnaires of observed behaviors or emotional functioning). Although school psychologists cannot provide formal diagnoses for conditions like ADD or ADHD, the results of any evaluation conducted by a school psychologist can inform the development of a 504 Plan or an individualized education program (IEP).


From a historical vantage point, the field of psychological evaluation has come a long way. Traditional assessments rely on the observer's impressions and assumptions, but contemporary evaluations are grounded in objective research and standardized testing. Psychological evaluations are now used with a broader spectrum of populations and environments. Despite these developments, discussion continues over the validity and reliability of certain assessment tools and ethical problems related to the use of assessment in decision-making. As more data and tools become available, psychological assessment is always developing.

Updated on: 13-Feb-2023

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