44 U. Cin. L. Rev. 690 (1975)
Civil Service Testing and Affirmative Action: A Psychologist's Perspective

handle is hein.journals/ucinlr44 and id is 706 raw text is: CIVIL SERVICE TESTING AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:
A PSYCHOLOGIST'S PERSPECTIVE
Thelma Hunt*
For this symposium, I am writing as a psychologist among lawyers. Our
two professions are brought together in this context by the legal profes-
sion's role in recent challenges of psychological testing. We psychologists
might decide our technical standards for test validity are either non-
attainable or incomprehensible or both, and leave the task of defining
a valid test to the courts. However, as a psychologist involved in public
employment testing, I believe that psychological tests can be defended
and that their use in public (or private) employment is compatible with
current social goals. This paper attempts to measure the gap between
present civil service testing systeros and affirmative action goals, focusing
on the extent to which compromise between them is possible.
Civil service testing systems generally stemmed from legal requirements
demanding employment on the basis of merit. Merit replaced the spoils
system, in which personal preferences of the employer were the deter-
mining factor, with objective criteria used to hire the best qualified
persons.1 The growth of merit systems coincided with the development
by psychologists of a wide variety of objective tests that have proven
helpful in selecting qualified employees.2 The dependence upon tests,
* Professor Emeritus of Psychology, George Washington University; Director,
Center for Psychological Service, Washington, D.C.; Senior Program Consultant, Na-
tional Civil Service League; A.B., 1924, Ph. D. in Psychology, 1927, M.D. 1935,
George Washington University.
1. Public merit system employment began with an act of Congress which es-
tablished the United States Civil Service Commission. Civil Service Act, 5 U.S.C.
§§ 1101-1508 (originally enacted as Act of Jan. 16, 1883, ch. 27, 22 Stat. 403).
For a summary of the early history of Civil Service testing, see P. DuBois, A HISTORY
OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING (1970).
2. The terms test and psychological test are used interchangeably in a
generic sense to include a variety of instruments which psychologists and psycho-
metricians have devised for evaluating human traits and characteristics.  These
instruments include pencil and paper general ability tests, general aptitude tests,
skills tests, psychomotor (strength and agility) tests, and techniques for evaluating
personality :'nd character traits. This broad coverage of the term is in agreement
with EEOC usage. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION TESTING AND
SELECTING GUIDELINES, 29 C.F.R. § 1607.2 (1974). The layman often regards
psychological tests as involving mainly, or only, psychological adjustment in the mental
health, character, or psychiatric sense. The term test alone has a very broad con-
notation in EEOC usage. Most of the current problems relating to public employment
law and the controversies between psychologists and civil rights advocates have been
concerned mainly (but not exclusively) with the objective pencil and paper test.

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