Alpha Beta Testing

Psychological Testing
Alpha Beta Testing
Will White
PSY 525
Instructor: Dr. Kecia Scott
August 6, 2012

Psychological Testing: Alpha Beta Tests

The history of psychological testing in the armed services is the history of psychological testing itself. World War I served as a laboratory for the study of modern psychology and provided clients for the emerging field of psychological examination. The military used aptitude tests to classify recruits as eligible for officer training or to select appropriate positions within the military (Markowitz, 1998). Aptitude tests are designed to measure both learning and inborn potential for the purpose of making predictions about the test taker’s future performance (Cohen and Swerdlik, 2010). Aptitude tests have been used by the military since World War I to screen prospective inductees for military service (ASVAB, 2012). Aptitude tests were administered in group format to provide information to military commanders on the abilities of military personnel (ASVAB, 2012).
The Alpha Beta tests were the first formal tests administered in group format to individuals in military service. They were developed by psychologists for the US Army in 1917 and 1918 (Yerkes, 1921). The Army Alpha test measured an individual’s numerical ability, verbal ability, ability to follow directions and their knowledge of basic information (ASVAB, 2012). Army Beta tests measured the same constructs, but were the non-verbal counterparts to the Alpha tests. The Beta test was used to evaluate the aptitudes of illiterate, unschooled or non-English speaking draftees and volunteers (ASVAB, 2012).
Over 1.5 million recruits were given the tests to identify specific classifications for individuals to serve. It was used to identify those who showed promise for leadership roles in the military (ASVAB, 2012). Both the Alpha and Beta test were based on the postulated premise that intelligence was an inherited trait and the tests measured...