Bias has dominated mental health service provision for a long time. Many clients of color with cultural differences have intentionally avoided taking the advantage of the services making them to be underutilized. Mental health is the play ground for psychological bias where mental professionals’ attitudes affect the assessment of clients. Clients of color have been found to receive different treatment option than the white people. This paper will address the factors that lead to psychological bias and propose method of reducing the bias (Gregory, 2004).
Factors which contribute to cultural bias in testing
There are two major factors that contribute to cultural bias in testing. They include linguistic and cultural differences among the student being tested.
Linguistic difference gives students of certain language an advantage over non- natives of the language of assessment. For instance when tests are done in English, students of color suffer a lot especially those who have not yet mastered the language. This contributes to their lower scores as compared with white counterparts. Generalization of the student results during test result in others failing to reach regression line of the test. This makes the teachers to group them as mentally retarded or slow learners due to lower scores. But in the real sense such students are neither mentally retarded nor slow learners (Gregory, 2004). They are barred from the mastery of the second language. Linguistic diversity has been one factor that greatly contributes to cultural bias.
Another factor which contributes to cultural bias testing is cultural differences. Culture is also compounded with other factor which includes item selection process, the content of the item, and the responses considered acceptable to the responses. Data collected from those tests is used as a measure of intelligence and grouping of student. In some of those tests students of color may score below average marks because of poor culture mastery abroad. This has been contributing factor to bias (Jensen, 1980).
Instruments that should be implemented to reduce cultural bias in assessment
Translation of the tests into the language of the examinee wills greatly balance the scores. This will give the examinees equal chances of exploiting their knowledge in answering the tests (Reynolds, 1998).
Introduce interpreters to explain the meaning of the items being tested to the examinees. This will quicken their understanding of the test so as to respond accordingly. Use all the techniques to eliminate offensive items to examiners.
Examiners should consider the examinees background when interpreting test scores. This will enable them to strike the balance between the native speakers and non-native speakers of the language of the test (Jensen, 1980).
Interpretation of the tests must not be in isolation. Instead, collect multiple data and use comprehensive methods to make appropriate decisions. Consideration of both technical and social aspects of the test will help reduce bias. The test can be technically non-biased but equally socially biased. So consideration of both aspects will reduce bias (Reynolds, 1998).
Interpretation of test scores must be done with testing principles and standards in mind. The standards and principles should address professional responsibility and ethics as well as work effectively with culturally diverse populations (Jensen, 1980).
Gregory, R. J. (2004). Psychological testing: History, principles, and applications. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Jensen, A. R. (1980). Bias in mental testing. New York: Free Press.
Reynolds, C. R. (1998). Cultural bias in testing of intelligence and personality. In A. Bellack & M. Hersen (Series Eds.) & C. Belar (Vol. Ed.), Comprehensive clinical psychology: Sociocultural and individual differences. New York: Elsevier Science.