Psychological testing on the internet: Know your deepest fears, recover repressed memories and discover your implicit biases all in 6 easy questions!
The technological revolution has made a plethora of information more accessible. We can read about gardening tools on our way to work, listen to a lecture psychological phenomena while working out, get news sent to your phone the minute it happens. We have never been in an age with almost all information at our fingertips. As a psychology student this begs the question, how has that shaped the field of psychology?
With advances in the accessibility of internet and technology, psychology has seen its fair share of the spotlight. Whether that be highlight of psychology research, self help books, or online psychological tests. As with anything on the internet, some of the content is high quality and reliable and some is not credible and twisted for marketing purposes. Psychology has been especially vulnerable this. Popular websites such as Buzzfeed often post quizzes that claim to “Guess your personality” or know your “anxieties based on your food choice”. These marketable quizzes are fun, quick and string together seemingly unrelated aspects of your life, such as your favorite colour and where you like to have sex (yes that’s areal Buzzfeed quiz) in an entertaining and engaging way.
Here are a few examples:
The harm in these tests manifest when the public observes this as being the face of psychology. When the marketable, profitable psychology becomes more mainstream and representative of psychology to the public than academic and clinical psychology, our field can be perceived as dis-credible. This type of psychological testing does lack credibility; they often only contain a few questions, don’t cite sources and are often misused.
There are of course, more credible uses of marketable psychology on the internet. Here is an example of a test which cites a well known, scientifically tested psychological test.
Another example of a good use of psychological tests on the internet is Project Implicit from Harvard University. This site has available a wide variety of IATs, such as the “gender-science IAT” or the “religions IAT”. They have an online consent form, stating that these analyses are only interpretations and should not be taken as fact. Including a consent form and disclaimer is an important step in the scientific testing process that should be included, even in online contexts.
Overall, while we have all observed cringe-worthy psychological tests on the internet, there are a lot of outlets doing a fantastic job of administering psychological tests online. It is these organizations and websites that are relaying reliable, tested and accurate information about psychological testing, and consequently, psychology as a whole.