SOME COMMENTS ON CULTURE FAIR TESTS

RICHARD D. ARVEY

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

An attempt has been made in this paper to show that culture fair tests have some problems associated with them. These tests should be examined and reviewed closely before being used and should not be regarded as the answer to testing the culturally disadvantaged. The following points were made in this paper: Culture fair tests measure different psychological functions. Culture fair tests today measure such functions as spatial visualization, abstract reasoning, perceptual speed, etc. Culture fair tests vary considerably in format. Some are pencil and paper tests, some are performance tests. Some use verbal instructions, others do not. There are many test parameters along which culture fair tests now vary. Some evidence suggests that culture fair tests possibly increase the differential between the culturally disadvantaged and the more advantaged population. Use of these tests may not be in the best interests of minority groups. It is not yet definite about the kind of items on which culturally disadvantaged people perform poorer. Some evidence suggests that they do better on verbal items and worst on perceptual items, which is in contrast to the assumption of most proponents of culture‐fair tests. The validity of culture fair tests has not been shown to be better than more traditional tests. In contrast, some research even indicates that they do not show relationships as high. What is to be done, if anything, about the test differentials between the culturally disadvantaged and the majority population? Some individuals (Lorge, 1964; Coffman, 1964) agree that the elimination of group differences on tests is futile and argue that the real task at hand is a realistic attempt to study the behavioral significance of test differences. In essence, this is an all out attempt to collect validation information. Does a particular score for a black have the same behavioral implications of a higher (or lower) test score for a white? Are there criterion differences that are related to test differences? Do differential validities exist for various subgroups? Are the standard errors of estimates different for different groups? This approach is essentially what has been pursued by individuals investigating the “moderating” effects of subgrouping by race and/or socio‐economic factors. The investigation of test differences within and between subgroups is called for. In my opinion, attempting to mask test differentials by using culture fair tests may in actuality have a reverse effect than what was intended. Test differentials may actually increase, making it more difficult for culturally disadvantaged individuals to be selected into schools, jobs, etc. Clearly, the construction of culture fair tests is not the only answer to testing the disadvantaged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-448
Number of pages16
JournalPersonnel Psychology
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1972

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