It happens about this time every year. The college football player Combine comes and goes and scores from the IQ test (the Wonderlic) are leaked to the press. The press jumps all over this frothing at the mouth, in particular to ridicule those athletes whose scores are low.
Who is protecting the confidentiality of psychological test scores? This is a huge ethical violation and I hold the officials in charge of the NFL Combine responsible.
Psychological tests, whether conducted in a psychologist’s office or in a company or at the NFL Combine all fall under very strict confidentiality rules, established by the American Psychological Associations Ethics Committee. These tests should never be administered unless a licensed psychologist, with expertise in testing and ethics, is in complete control of the testing and the dissemination of the results.
Although the athletes at the NFL Combine may sign a release so that teams can receive their results, these releases should specify that ONLY TEAM personnel receive them; they should not be available to the media. Just imagine how you would have felt if your SAT scores were distributed to the media for publication.
Part of the problem here, is that the Wonderlic is an outdated test, with no predictive validity studies linking scores to success on the field. There are much better assessments available to predict athletic success in competition, yet the powers in charge of the NFL Combine seem married to an archaic, rarely used assessment which according to Wonderlic’s site states that the test used as part of the NFL draft is the Wonderlic Personnel Test.
So, the first question we need to ask is why is this test still used? So much money is spent on athletes in professional sports. Why not spend a little money to develop an assessment that REALLY assesses this particular group?
Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis
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