By Paul Kline
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Extra resources for Handbook of Psychological Testing
The score on a test which an individual may obtain on any occasion - the obtained score - differs from his or her true score on account of random error. If we were to test an individual on many occasions, on the same test, a distribution of scores would be obtained. It is assumed that the mean of this distribution, which is assumed to be normal, approximates the true score. From this it can be seen that if we want to obtain the most accurate measurement possible we should test subjects on many occasions.
Thus, in the applied setting there is a trade-off between brevity and reliability. If we understand the relationship between test reliability and length we shall not make fatal errors, as indeed many test constructors do, as will be demonstrated in the final section of this handbook where a large number of psychological tests are reviewed. It is obvious that reliability increases with test length. Since we have defined true scores as the scores on the universe of items, it must be the case that the longer the test, the higher its correlation with the true score.
2. Set A has 10 items; set B has 20 items and set C has 30 items. 6 yields the following reliabilities. 882 42 Psychometric theory and method From this it is clear that even a IO-item test can give a tolerable reliability if the items are measuring a common core, and the 20-item test yields a highly satisfactory reliability. 939. 2. 4. 952 emerges. This is a very high figure and few tests exceed this. From this discussion it is quite clear that a reliable test can be made from as few as lO homogeneous items but this is probably a minimum figure for a good test.