Scientology Tests' Purpose and Validity Are Questioned

The Buffalo News
February 2, 2005
Stop at a kiosk in the mall, or flip through a publication, and you might run across a free "personality test."

The test has long been a main recruitment tool for the Church of Scientology.

The test - called the Oxford Capacity Analysis, although it isn't connected to Oxford University - leads test-takers to gains in self-improvement, said Teresa Reger, president of the Buffalo church.

But others disagree.

Anne-Marie Dunning is a former staff member who evaluated test results before leaving the church in May 2003.

"The tests are basically manipulated so there is something wrong," Dunning said. "You're telling (the test-taker) everything that's wrong with them. Most of the time, it's what's wrong with everybody."

The test - as well as ones for stress and IQ - is a sales device to rope people into buying the church's expensive courses and materials, she said.

Neither Reger nor a church Web site could provide information that substantiated the use of its test.

Robert Spies, associate director of Buros Institute of Mental Measurements in Lincoln, Neb., which produces the "Mental Measurements Yearbook" - the industry bible for psychological tests - cast doubt on tests in which organizations, such as the Church of Scientology, don't reveal testing methods.

"Any group should include information that substantiates the use of its test," Spies said. "If they can't, then it doesn't meet the standards for educational and psychological tests."

Scientology's innocuous-looking tests have a particular appeal to young people, critics warn.

Last summer at the Erie County Fair, two teenagers wandered into the church's tent to take a free stress test.

The teens, Dorothy McLoughlin of Hamburg and Andrew Beebe of West Seneca, used an "E-Meter" - tin cans connected to a battery-powered galvonometer and needle dial. The device sent a small current of electricity through their bodies as personal details were discussed.

"I thought it was pretty accurate," said McLoughlin, 16. "There are a couple of things that are stress factors for me, and the needle was way over, out of sight."

News file photo
Personality, stress and IQ tests are recruitment tools for the Church of Scientology.
Click to enlarge

Back to articles index

Last modified: Wed Feb 2 02:41:13 EST 2005