The detection and influence of problematic item content in ability tests: An examination of sensitivity review practices for personnel selection test development


In organizational and educational practices, sensitivity reviews are commonly advocated techniques for reducing test bias and enhancing fairness. In the present paper, results from two studies are reported which investigate how effective individuals are at detecting problematic test content and the influence such content has on important testing outcomes. In Study 1, signal detection analyses are used to examine the role of individual differences in the identification of insensitive test items, while Study 2 investigates the extent to which insensitivity differentially influences item performance and reactions. Results revealed small but significant differences in the overall accuracy and response tendencies of student test reviewers on the basis of demographics and key individual differences variables. Contrary to predictions however, problematic items did not exhibit differential item functioning across sex nor did their presence engender negative test taker reactions. Implications and suggestions for future research and sensitivity review practices are discussed.

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 121, 158-173
James A. Grand
James A. Grand
Associate Professor, Psychology

A scientist at heart, an organizational psychologist by training, and a lucky dad and husband all the time.