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Then: Purity Tests; Now: Psychoanalysis Online

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[ Technology]

Internet tests of someone’s IQ or alleged “purity” have long existed on the Web, but now computer technology has advanced far enough to allow scientists to craft tests to assess one’s potential for autism or racial bias.

Delving deeper into the human brain online had been the province of a simple array of web forms that toted up right and wrong answers. Identify enough brain-teasers on an IQ test and watch the score soar.

Different sites yielded different results, so a genius-country 130 on one site may be a brain-busting 160 on another. Those days have changed, as a couple of online tests that have recently begun to circulate demonstrate.

MSNBC has been running an “autism quotient” test that works with Flash in the browser. Users go through a 50-question quiz, selecting from one of four answers that measure how much they agree or disagree with a given statement.

The end of the test displays the results and a scale showing what those results indicate. Also, the test cautions people who are concerned about their score to consult a doctor.

Harvard has a different set of tests online called Implicit. This test from Project Implicit attempts to gauge what’s on people’s minds with regards to a variety of topics, like race, sexuality, and religion.

The tests function similarly. Users sort words and pictures into categories as quickly as possible. Test takers have to be quick with their choices, otherwise no results will be generated. Tests take about ten minutes, and give an assessment based on the results when complete.

Currently these tests exist as simple exercises for the visitor. However, employers in many industries have begun using tests to assess personality and other qualities of job applicants. The tests referred to in this article demonstrate just how far a test can go in picking up more details about a person than they may consciously realize.

It seems likely these tests or variants could find their way into a human resource department’s assessment programs in the future. Perhaps someone will challenge these tests on a legal basis in the future, citing privacy concerns. Then workers will find out just how much privacy they are entitled to when it comes to finding work in a very technological world.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Then: Purity Tests; Now: Psychoanalysis Online
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