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An applicant with a provisional offer of employment, is required to earn certain scores on several selection tests among other job application requirements. He had significant trouble with one of the required tests, and his score was low enough that he would have failed the assessment and would be ineligible for hire if this had been the only criteria. As part of the established civil service criteria, he is given a different test of a similar type to confirm or deny the results of the first test administration.

The applicant looks extremely nervous. The job is clearly importantly to him. You make an effort to reassure, encourage him to relax, and advise him to approach the test honestly and in a matter of fact fashion. He gets up several times during the testing session to go to the bathroom. When you review the results, he has barely passed.

In reflecting on the test situation, you realize he had his cell phone with him each time he went to the bathroom. It is at least a possibility that he was calling someone to obtain help to pass the test (cheating).

What, if anything, should you do here? Who is your client? Since you didn't catch him in the act, can you do anything about your suspicions? If you are wrong and you accuse him, would there be substantial harm?

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According to London and Bray 1980 as cited in Beresoff, (2003) although some situations may be constructed by the employer, the psychologist perceives and interprets the situation with restrictions that he or she believes contribute to an ethical practice. On the other hand, tests given for one purpose may be used for another purpose. For instance, as they, London and Bray, point out, a score on an employment test may be used later for selection in a training program, assignment to a specific work, or promotion to a higher level (p. 277). Thus, the psychologist would have to consider whether the person is qualified. In this situation, the counselor or professional's client is the Civil Service Agency, and thus the competence of the individual should be taken into consideration as it is part of the evaluation process. However, the counselor's first obligation is to adhere to ethical practices (London & Bray, 1980; American Psychological Association [APA], 2000), and cheating would be viewed as an unethical practice. Guided by APA ethical guidelines, the psychologist has a duty to follow up with his or her suspicions, but in a way that adheres to ethical guidelines.

For instance, APA (2002) guidelines state that standard procedures in evaluations should include a clear explanation to the examinee of the evaluation process that include direct and honest answers to the test questions. Moreover, the psychologists' obligations to the employer include providing accurate expectations for evaluative procedures, and respecting the employer's rights. On this basis, they are to provide high quality information for personnel decisions that are reliable and valid. The fact that the counselor did not catch the examinee in the act does not release him or her from the obligation to follow ethical procedures. For example, if the counselor strongly suspects that the student is being dishonest, and the Civil Service Agency is his or her ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses a a case study related to ethical concerns in test taking.