Buros-Nebraska Series on Measurement and Testing


Date of this Version

Spring 1996

Document Type

Book Chapter


Published in Multicultural Assessment in Counseling and Clinical Psychology, edited by Gargi Roysircar Sadowsky and James C. Impara (Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 1996).


Copyright © 1996 by Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Digital edition copyright © 2012 Buros Center for Testing.


Assessment, evaluation, and diagnosis will gain increasing prominence as we head into the next century. Emphasis on managed care in the mental health system, well-being of individuals, job and work efficiency, personnel selection, upward promotions in one's career, admissions to institutions of higher education, etc., all require valid means of measurement and testing.

Several points are covered in this chapter. Firs t, the assessment process involving ethnic minorities has many avenues by which bias can emerge. The biases can occur because of differences in culture or ethnicity as well as minority group status. Although culture has been defined in many different ways, it generally refers to the behavior patterns, symbols, institutions, values, and human products of a society (Banks, 1987). On the other hand, ethnicity can be used to describe a racial, national, or cultural group (Gordon, 1978). One's ethnicity typically conveys a social-psychological sense of "peoplehood" in which members of a group share a social and cultural heritage that is transmitted from one generation to another. Ethnic group members often feel an interdependence of fate with others in the group (Banks, 1987). In addition to culture and ethnicity, members of ethnic minority groups also experience minority group status that involves a history of race or ethnic relations, a history that has affected interpersonal interactions, expectations, and performances. Thus to fully understand ethnic minority groups, their responses, and the assessment process, culture, ethnicity, and minority group status must be analyzed.

Second, concern with test and measurement bias is not simply a matter of being "politically correct" or of being perpetuated by ethnics who are disgruntled by their outcomes on various tests and measures. Bias does exist in many of our assessment instruments and procedures, and I shall try to demonstrate the range of biases using anecdotes and empirical evidence. Third, multiple steps should be taken to devise valid instruments and to understand the nature of cultural bias. Much of the research that will be cited involves Asian Americans; however, implications are drawn for ethnicity in general. Some anecdotal examples of sources of biases and consequences may more clearly indicate the importance of the issues to be presented.