Army Alpha and Beta Tests

At the onset of World War I, an event occurred that would significantly alter the method by which psychological testing was conducted.   This event was the development of the Army Alpha and Beta tests.   With these tests came the ability to test large groups of individuals at one time.   These tests paved the way for the development of countless other psychological tests.  

Army Alpha and Beta Tests
Countless events in history have influenced the development of psychological testing.   One of the most influential of these events was the development of the Army Alpha and Beta tests.   A description of the development of these tests will be provided.   The significance of these tests in the field of psychology as well as the fields of education and industry will also be examined.   An explanation of how this test has influenced the future development of psychological testing will also be given.  
Event and Historical Roots
In April 1917 Robert M. Yerkes, the president of the American Psychological Association, was asked by the United States Army to begin the development of tests that could measure the individual’s ability to be a good soldier (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010).   Information gained would also be used to place individuals in the job for which they were best suited.   The placement of recruits in the best job for their abilities meant an improved use of human resources.   Yerkes appointed a team of psychologists to 13 different committees to accomplish this goal (Geisinger, 2000).   Other psychologists on these committees included such men as Terman and Goddard.   Within a few weeks, the committees developed two different assessment tools, the Army Alpha and Beta that were “heavily borrowed from the work of one psychologist of the day, Arthur S. Otis” (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2010, p. 118).
Both tests were administered to groups of recruits rather than individually (Crooks & Stein, 1988).   Recruits, who could read were administered the Army Alpha test....