The development of psychological assessment in China

2.4 The development of psychological assessment in China

Psychological test usage in China has progressed at a slower pace than that of Western nations (Higgens & Sun, 2002). One of the reasons for this can be traced back to China’s Cultural Revolution as before such time, the Chinese demonstrated interest in the assessment of individual differences for thousands of years. However, in more recent centuries in the People’s Republic of China, psychological testing was viewed as being a bourgeoisie tool (Higgens & Sun, 2002). Following the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969), China renewed its interest in testing. Due to a scarcity of professionals with understanding of the principles, processes, and applications of psychometric assessment, China had few tests available as recently as the 1970s. For this reason, alongside a growing acceptance of the science of psychometric assessment as a necessity in both educational and clinical settings, China accepted Western measures and the theories that underlie them. It did so with ambivalence as Western culture is distinctly different from Asian culture and thus the tests may, in some way, be biased (Higgens & Sun, 2002).

Since the 1970s, a number of tests have been developed and normed on the Chinese population (e.g., Chinese Children’s Development Scale: Zhou & Zhang, 1994; MMPI-2: Cheung, Song & Zhang, 1996). However, just as historically in the West, it has been the use of tests in educational and clinical settings that have been advanced at the expense of tests for occupational settings. Indeed, Zhang (1994) remarks that most tests used in China are used for classification and assessment rather than for diagnosis or prediction. With the rapid economical development sustained by China, the retraction from a Marxist system (wherein career was defined and given by the state and linked to family) and continued international interest through globalisation and the fact that one quarter of the world’s population is Chinese, it is essential that China has tests which measure and predict local traits, behaviour and performance.

In relation to these local traits in China, separate teams of researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong have been involved in the development of personality assessment tools for the Chinese people. The Chinese Personality Assessment Inventory (CPAI: Cheung, Leung, Fan, Song, Zhang, Zhang, 1996) and The Chinese Personality at Work Questionnaire (CPW: Hui, Cheng & Gan 2000) are two reported measures of ‘Chinese personality’. Prior to reviewing these measures, it is necessary to cover issues relating to generalisation of research findings between Hong Kong and China and the use of personality assessments in Hong Kong. These Chinese measures are thus discussed in Section 2.7.