Key Difference – Test vs Experiment in Psychology
In psychology, various tests and experiments are conducted by psychologists and there exists some difference between test and experiment in the context of psychology. For most of us, tests and experiments all sound quite similar, they all seem to test or examine a phenomenon. Although this assumption is quite valid, within the discipline of psychology, tests and experiments are usually distinguished. A test is used to comprehend the psychological makeup of an individual. An experiment refers to an investigation in which the validity of a hypothesis is tested in a scientific manner. This highlights that the key difference between test and experiment is that while experiments use hypothesis and produce new knowledge, tests do not. They merely assist the psychologist in the application. Through this article let us examine these differences between test and experiment in detail.
What is a Test?
A test or a psychological test used by a psychologist or a counselor to comprehend the psychological makeup of an individual. By conducting a test, the psychologist can comprehend and calculate certain attributes of the individual. Let us take an example. A psychologist gives the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory for an individual to test his personality. In this instance, the psychologist is analyzing the personality of the individual through a psychological test.
In psychology, a number of tests can be used to gain a better understanding of different aspects of the individual. Some of the areas that can be tested are human traits, mental disorders, cognitive abilities, intelligence, attitudes, achievement, and professional interests. For example, Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale is used to assess the intelligence of the individual while, the inkblot test can be used to assess the personality.
However, it is important to highlight that there may be exceptions to the accuracy of the tests. In some situations although the test may suggest a particular condition based on the answers of the individual, these may not, in fact, relate to the true condition. This is why most psychologists tend to use more than one test before arriving at a diagnosis.
What is an Experiment?
Experiments are widely used in psychology as one of the most primary methods of inquiry. An experiment refers to an investigation in which the validity of a hypothesis is tested in a scientific manner. Psychologists who conduct experiments use various variables for the experiment. Mainly there are two types of variables. They are the dependent variable and the independent variable. Usually the psychologist manipulates the independent variable, in relation to which the dependent variable also reacts. Through this, the cause and effect are studied.
When speaking of experiments, most people assume that these are confined to the laboratory. Although there is a category known as the laboratory experiment in which the study is conducted in a very controlled environment, there are other experiments as well. These are known as natural experiments in which the variables are merely observed rather than controlled.
What is the difference between Test and Experiment in psychology?
Definitions of Test and Experiment:
Test: A test or a psychological test used by a psychologist or a counselor in order to comprehend the psychological makeup of an individual.
Experiment: An experiment refers to an investigation in which the validity of a hypothesis is tested in a scientific manner.
Characteristics of Test and Experiment:
Test: There are no hypotheses.
Experiment: Most experiments require hypotheses.
Test: Tests do not produce new knowledge but can be used to assist people and also to support experiments.
Experiment: Experiments lead to new knowledge.
Test: Tests centre on the individual’s psychological construct.
Experiment: Experiments can go beyond a single individual.
1. “Rorschach blot 01” by Hermann Rorschach (died 1922) [Public Domain] via Commons
2. “Skinner box scheme 01” by Andreas1 – Adapted from Image:Boite skinner.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons