Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Elizabeth L. Shoenfelt (Director), Reagan D. Brown, and Amber N. Schroeder

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


This review is an extension of a study by Shoenfelt and Pedigo (2005). The purpose of this review is to help form an understanding of how the courts handle cases where an organization has used a cognitive ability test to select employees and consequently faced charges. Cognitive ability testing is the best known predictor of job performance for a wide range of jobs. However, cognitive ability testing also is known to lead organizations to select fewer members of protected groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and women. The cases that were reviewed were identified in the LexisNexis database. In order to review the cases, pertinent information was coded by four Industrial-Organizational Psychology graduate students then used the information as categorical data to make comparisons based on the outcome of each case and the conditions that may have led to the outcome. Findings were similar to the Shoenfelt and Pedigo (2005), which is likely due to the low number of new cases that were added to the review. Cases in which the defendant had used a validated test often ruled in favor of the defendant. However, in the six new cases that were discovered, issues such as arbitrary cutoff scores and the presentation of equally valid alternatives played a role in rulings in favor of the plaintiff even in cases with a validated test. The case claims were all race based and all involved tests that were professionally developed.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Community Psychology | Industrial and Organizational Psychology