The Gang Test

Social psychologist Malcolm Klein devised a test for Los Angeles that he says predicts how likely a child is to join a gang, reports the Wall Street Journal. The test, which can be found here in its entirety, asks kids questions like whether they have just broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and how many of their friends have used marijuana. The problem: the city won’t know for several years if the predictions are accurate. [%comments]

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  1. Robin says:

    I suspect a high correlation between children who answer yes to questions 68-70 and gang activity. Can I be a psychologist now?

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  2. Caliphilosopher says:

    Methodological queries for the person who devised the test:

    1) Is it fair to assume that kids won’t be in gangs in the 4th grade? i.e., why is 5th grade the cutoff?

    2) The “Race/Ethnicity” lines do not allow for gradients between “White” and “Black”. If Prof. Roland Fryer’s research is to be taken seriously (and I have excellent reasons why it should not), then the test is not picking up the “plighted mixed-race” children (namely, those that are part “Black” and “White”)

    3) Regarding the “Thinking back” question: Introspection is notoriously unreliable. Think of position effects in Psychology. If introspection is unreliable for adults, then wouldn’t it be worse for children?

    4) If question #53 was excluded, would that have a major effect on the predictive power of the test?

    5) The same with question #70 – this seems like it is stacking the deck. This test is supposed to PREDICT how likely a child will be to join a gang; if they’re already in a gang, the predictive power of this test is artificially increased. Major problem here.

    6) What counts as evidence (for this test) that the subject is not honest?

    I’m pretty skeptical that this test will have much fruitfulness, even with the questions in the survey that stack the deck for it’s alleged predictive power.

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  3. David says:

    75. Do you typically lie when you’re given stupid questionnaires? Yes | No

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  4. Jeff S says:

    Late. I’ve already given this to the people in the cubicles and 3 of them have already started throwing gang signs…

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  5. David Chowes, New York City says:

    The “gang test” does not presently evidence usefulness. Though as it is being investigated, it may well.

    Yes, it is being used — but utilized to determine if it has reliability and validity. Reliability consists of the instrument giving consistent responses each time it is administered within the group which it is presently being administered to.

    Validity means that the test is actually predicting the outcome — in this case, gang membership in the future,

    For a measurement devise to have validity it must have reliability; however, a test can have reliability but lack validity.

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  6. k says:

    Things like “Have you recently broken up with a girlfriend or boyfriend” are temporary, though, even if they are repeated experiences. So a kid may score high one week, and low the next (depending on how one defines “recently”). This is likely to introduce a bit of noise…

    Plus…virtually all kids break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend in school; the ones that don’t often don’t because their parents are putting substantial pressure on them not to date – i.e., there is home involvement. If they’re looking for kids who never have relationships with this index, they are probably looking for those families – so in essence, family involvemetn may be a better predictor of non-gang involvement. No?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Have taxpayers in any way coughed up the money for this study?
    Will the results be stored under the counter unused.
    Be used but counter-productive?

    ?
    ?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Have taxpayers in any way coughed up the money for this study?
    Will the results be stored under the counter unused.
    Be used but counter-productive?

    ?
    ?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0