The validity of cognitive ability tests is often interpreted solely as a function of the cognitive abilities that these tests are supposed to measure, but other factors may be at play. The effects of test anxiety on the criterion related validity (CRV) of tests was the topic of a recent study by Reeve, Heggestad, and Lievens (2009) (Reeve, C. L., Heggestad, E. D., & Lievens, F. (2009). Modeling the impact of test anxiety and test familiarity on the criterion-related validity of cognitive ability tests. Intelligence, 37, 34−41.). They proposed a model on the basis of classical test theory, and concluded on the basis of data simulations that test anxiety typically decreases the CRV. In this paper, we view the effects of test anxiety on cognitive ability test scores and its implications for validity coefficients from the perspective of confirmatory factor analysis. We argue that CRV will be increased above the effect of targeted constructs if test anxiety affects both predictor and criterion performance. This prediction is tested empirically by considering convergent validity of subtests in five experimental studies of the effect of stereotype threat on test performance. Results show that the effects of test anxiety on cognitive test performance may actually enhance the validity of tests.
Wicherts, J. M., & Zand Scholten, A. (2010). Test anxiety and the validity of cognitive tests: A confirmatory factor analysis perspective and some empirical findings. Intelligence, 38(1), 169-178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2009.09.008