Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Pauline in Corpus Christi, Texas. What are your views on taking anxiety tests online? There are a lot of anxiety tests on the internet and once you take the test, they give you your level of anxiety and other suggestions. Do you think it’s good?
Well, it will depend on the test. Remember anyone can put anything they want online. Quality of material, including online anxiety tests, will vary.
Generally speaking, a good quality test can give you an idea if you have anxiety problems and then you have to decide how to proceed.
Here are some things to look for when determining the quality of a test. Who is the author of the test? A mental health professional or psychology researcher? Or someone with credentials, education and experience outside the field of psychology and anxiety treatment? Or no credentials, but just what the author thinks makes sense or sounds good?
The first type of author will be the most likely to produce a valid and reliable test. The second type is going to be hit or miss. Someone with credentials in communication, human resource management, or economics may be very knowledgeable about their field, know a few things about human behavior and have a high level of competence, but that doesn’t mean that they’re knowledgeable about areas outside their field of study such as the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders. The last category will be the least reliable. Even if the test is written by a layman with personal experience with anxiety, they may heavily weigh the test based on their own experience. This won’t produce a test high in validity and reliability.
Is the test valid and reliable? This is a basic scientific principle. Validity means does the test measure what it’s supposed to measure? Reliability means does the test measure what it’s supposed to measure consistently? The only real way to determine this is through statistical analysis. Does the test ask questions about anxiety and related issues such as depression and irritability or the impact of anxiety? Or are the questions seemingly irrelevant or unrelated? Does the test ask only three or four questions or does it explore the issues more thoroughly?
The more measures you take, the higher the reliability, but what are you going to do with the results? If you take an online anxiety test and say you score high meaning you have high levels of anxiety or even possibly an anxiety disorder, then what’s your next move? Or if you scored low yet you continue suffering with anxiety, what then? Self-improvement and developing coping skills? Seeking professional assistance through a counselor or psychotherapist or seeing your physician for medication or doing nothing and continuing to suffer hoping that things get better on their own?
The last one is typically futile. Albert Einstein said words to this effect, “It is insane to continue the same actions repeatedly and expect different results.” AA or Alcoholics Anonymous has adopted this quote and turned it into a guiding principle for treatment of alcoholism, but it definitely applies much more widely to many areas of life, including resolution or management of anxiety.