UMUC Types of Assessment Tools Psychologist Use Assignment Your neighbor tells you that her nine-year-old son has been having behavior and academic problem

UMUC Types of Assessment Tools Psychologist Use Assignment Your neighbor tells you that her nine-year-old son has been having behavior and academic problems in school. “His teacher recommended taking him to the pediatrician to get a prescription for Ritalin,” she said.

In a well-thought-out paper integrating information from the text and the module readings, make an argument for why your neighbor should first have her son evaluated by a clinical psychologist.

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Discuss the types of assessment tools the psychologist might use in his or her evaluation and how these tools would help in guiding diagnosis and treatment. Make sure to use appropriate sources of information and reference them properly, in American Psychological Association (APA) style.

This paper should be 3–4 pages and formatted in APA style. The International Handbook of Psychology
Psychological Assessment and Testing
Edited by: Kurt Pawlik & Mark R. Rosenzweig
Book Title: The International Handbook of Psychology
Chapter Title: “Psychological Assessment and Testing”
Pub. Date: 2000
Access Date: April 9, 2019
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications Ltd
City: London
Print ISBN: 9780761953296
Online ISBN: 9781848608399
Print pages: 365-406
© 2000 SAGE Publications Ltd All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the pagination of the online
version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
© International Union of Psychological Science
SAGE Reference
Psychological Assessment and Testing
As a technical term, ‘psychological assessment’ refers to methods developed to describe, record, and interpret a person’ behavior, be it with respect to underlying basic dispositions (traits), to characteristics of state or
change, or to such external criteria as expected success in a given training curriculum or in psychotherapeutic
treatment. Methods of psychological assessment and testing constitute a major technology that grew out of
psychological research, with widespread impact in educational, clinical, and industrial/organizational psychology, in counseling and, last but not least, in research itself.
In the most general sense, all assessment methods share one common feature: they are designed so as to
capture the enormous variability (between persons, or within a single person) in kind and properties of behavior and to relate these observed variations to explanatory dimensions or to external criteria of psychological
intervention and prediction. As a distinct field of psychology, psychological assessment comprises (1) a wide
range of instruments for observing, recording, and analyzing behavioral variations; (2) formalized theories of
psychological measurement underlying the design of these methods; and, finally, (3) systematic methods of
psychodiagnostic inference in interpreting assessment results. In this chapter all three branches of psychological assessment will be covered and major methods of assessment will be reviewed.
Assessment methods differ in the approach taken to study behavioral variations: through direct observation,
by employing self-ratings or ratings supplied from contact persons, by applying systematic behavior sampling
techniques (so-called ‘tests’) or through studying psycho-physiological correlates of behavior. In this chapter
these alternative approaches are dealt with in Section 20.6 as different data sources for assessment. An alternative classification of assessment tools follows a typology of assessment tasks: developmental assessment
in early or late childhood, vocational guidance testing, assessment in job selection or placement, intelligence
testing, or psychological assessment in clinical contexts such as diagnostics of anxiety states. Some of these
will be dealt with, albeit in an exemplary rather than exhaustive fashion, in Section 20.7.
Before reviewing different data sources and practical applications of psychological assessment, the history,
heuristics, and goals of assessment will be briefly looked at (Sections 20.1 and 20.2), to be followed by the
explanation of a so-called process chart of psychological assessment (Section 20.3). This will enable the
reader to appreciate different functions of psychological assessment in studying and interpreting variations in
human behavior. Following these three introductory sections, basic psychometric and ethical/legal standards
of assessment and psychodiagnostic inference are dealt with in Section 20.4. By present understanding and
professional standards, psychological assessments and tests cannot be applied responsibly without proper
psychometric and ethical/legal grounding. Psychological assessment procedures in general and psychological tests in particular, must not be mistaken for stand-alone procedures, they cannot be applied responsibly
in the absence of profound psychometric qualification and sufficient familiarity with the conceptual basis of
an assessment procedure, within which it has been developed and beyond which its results should not be
interpreted. For example, tests of intelligence originate in specific operationalizations of what is to be understood by intelligence. Individual scores on a test of intelligence must not be interpreted beyond the limits set
by the theoretical-conceptual basis of that test. Of course, from this follow also stringent rules of professional
procedure as regards minimum qualifications to be requested from persons who may apply methods of assessments outside contexts of supervision (Bartram, 1998).
Not surprisingly for a field that is broad in scope and practical applications, there is a rich introductory textbook
literature available (see the Resource References for a sampler). While some topics, like psychometric measurement theory or culture-fair testing of basic information-processing capacities, will hold without much variation across cultures, many assessment methods, especially in personality and clinical testing, must be viewed
as ethnic-embedded and culture-related. In that case special standards have to be observed in cross-cultural
testing (see also Chapter 18) and when adapting psychological tests, for example, of functions of intelligence,
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from one language area or culture to another (cf. Section 20.4 below). Of course, this poses also problems of
presentation in this Handbook, as we look upon psychological science from an international perspective. In
this chapter, the following compromise has been adopted: in the main part of the chapter (Sections 20.1–20.7)
psychological assessment and testing are dealt with (1) in a generalistic manner and (2) with examples mainly
from the English-language and German-language literature, simply for reasons of greater familiarity on the
part of the present author. To counterbalance this unavoidable cultural bias, four further sections 20.8–20.11
provide comparative overviews of assessment methodologies in other languages, viz. Chinese (Mandarin),
French, Russian, and Spanish, each one written by a distinguished author from that language region. This
selection of additional language areas still cannot achieve the desirable full breadth of inter-nationality, yet it
is the authors’ (and Editors’!) intention and hope that in this way at least some widening of international perspective is achieved.
Throughout this chapter the term ‘behavior’ is used in a generic sense, including also verbal and other expressions of internal experience, of feelings, emotions, perceptions or attitudes. Similarly, the term ‘psychological assessment’ is used to cover all kinds of assessment technology, including, for example, projective
techniques and objective behavior tests. ‘Psychodiagnostics’, as preferred in some languages, is understood
as synonymous to ‘assessment’. Finally, unless stated otherwise, the word ‘person’ is used to refer to the
individual whose behavior is being assessed (thus avoiding such expressions as ‘testee’, ‘interviewee’, ‘assessee’, or ‘subject’).
20.1 History of Psychological Assessment and Testing
Individual differences in human behavior have been an object of human inquiry ever since the earliest times
of human history. At the high period of ancient classics, eminent philosophers like Aristotle or Plato were intrigued by the diversity in human nature. First examples of systematic proficiency and achievement ‘testing’
are reported from as far back as the ancient Chinese Mandarin civil servant selection procedures (Dubois,
The historical roots of present-day psychological testing and assessment go back to 1882 and the work of Sir
Francis Galton in Great Britain and to pioneer studies in individual differences, by James McKeen Cattell in
1890, in the United States. During the last decade of the nineteenth century many prototypes of what later
were to become mental tests were published: for the study of individual differences in memory performance,
in reasoning or speed of perception, for example. In 1897 Hermann Ebbinghaus, already famous for his monumental experimental pioneer work on human memory, devised new reasoning tests (e.g., following a sentence-completion design) to be used in school-settings. And in 1895 the French psychologist and lawyer Alfred Binet published, together with Victor Henri, the first edition of his ‘échelle mentale’, a scaled series of
short tests designed to measure level of intellectual development in six-year-old children to guide in educational placement and counselling. At the same time we also find first attempts towards the development of
assessment procedures in clinical contexts, e.g. by the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin.
In the following years the number of published studies on individual psychological differences expanded rapidly (cf. Pawlik, 1968), giving rise to a new branch of psychology: the study of individual differences. As early as
1900, the German psychologist William Stern published his founding text Über Psychologie der individuellen
Differenzen (‘On the psychology of individual differences’ Stern, 1900). In this book he laid a conceptual and
methodological foundation also for the development of psychological assessment. The second edition of this
book (Stern, 1911; see also Pawlik, 1994) still is the significant landmark in the early history of assessment
and individual difference research.
While much early test development work was geared towards solving practical assessment problems (in the
educational system, in measuring job performance and developmental potential, or in clinical contexts), anPage 3 of 53
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other seminal publication shortly after the turn of the century by the British psychologist Charles Spearman
(1904) laid the foundation for what should later become the first-choice assessment paradigm: psychological
tests for measuring basic personal dispositions (today called traits, see Chapter 16). In his 1904 paper Spearman also developed a mathematical-statistical theory for analyzing individual differences in mental tests into
two independent components: a universal component (factor) of ‘general intelligence’, which would be common, yet in different degree, to each and every mental test, plus a second, test-specific component (depending on test make-up, item content, mode of presentation, etc.). Spearman’ paper upgraded psychological assessment from a descriptive sampling level to the level of measurement and structural analysis of individual
differences. It inspired an enormous research literature on the dimensional (factorial) analysis of assessment
instruments and individual difference indicators. The salient work by Sir Cyril Burt and Philip Vernon in the
United Kingdom, by Leon and Thelma Q. Thurstone and Joy P. Guilford in the US, to be followed in the 1940s
and 1950s by Hans J. Eysenck in the United Kingdom and Raymond B. Cattell in the US, laid the foundation
for what is now confirmed empirical evidence on the multi-factor structure of human intelligence, personality/
temperament, aptitudes, and motivations (Pawlik, 1968; see also Chapter 16 in this Handbook). The design of
numerous methods of psychological assessment still widely in use, is rooted in this research, which has given
rise to such standard assessments of intelligence as the Wechsler tests of intelligence (Wechsler, 1958), tests
of psycho-motor proficiency or of personality/temperament dimensions like extraversion-introversion, neuroticism, or anxiety. Early precursors in this development include, among others, the development of the first
personality questionnaire (Personal Data Sheet) by Robert S. Woodworth in 1913, the first paper-and-pencil
group test of intelligence (called Army Alpha Test of Intelligence) in 1914, the first multi-dimensional clinical
personality questionnaire by Hathaway and McKinley (1943) in Minnesota (Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory: MMPI), or the Differential Aptitude Test Battery by Bennett and co-workers (Bennett, Seashore,
& Wesman, 1981).
One common element in these assessment developments was their primary, if not exclusive, reliance on a
static cross-sectional diagnosis (so-called status assessment, studying behavior variations between persons).
This perspective came under challenge when, in the 1950s/1960s, professional and research emphases in
assessment moved away from description towards intervention, foremost in clinical contexts for evaluating
new methods of counselling and psychological therapy. This called for a process-orientation in testing, that is
for assessment instruments that will allow to monitor change (within-person variation) rather than traits (stable
dispositions underlying between-person variations). This new test design also raised questions of psychometric measurement theory; even now these issues have not yet been brought to fully satisfactory solution.
Other lines of research progress in psychological assessment since the 1960s involve systematic construct
analysis of assessment variables under study. A prime example in this respect is the assessment of anxiety,
differentiating conceptually between trait (stable over time and situation) and state (varying over time and situation) anxiety, with both in turn to be contrasted from test anxiety (Spielberger, 1983). In yet another line of
research, assessment techniques were developed to study behavioral variations in situ in a person’ everyday
life course or, as it has been called, ‘in the field’. One motif behind this development was a growing concern
for ecological validity (Barker, 1960) of assessment results, which called for sampling behavior not in an artificial laboratory situation, but in a person’ natural life space. This also inspired research towards assessing
individual differences in the unrestrained ‘natural’ stream of behavior in a person’ natural environment (Pawlik, 1998).
In recent years new developments in the assessment field also became possible through the use of advanced
computer technologies, mostly at the level of personal computers (PC), leading to a new assessment technology called computer-aided testing (CAT). In its simplest form, an existing paper-and-pencil test such as a
personality questionnaire is loaded into a computer program that will present the test items and record the
person’ item responses. In its most advanced form, which employs a special adaptive psychometric test theory, a test-software (also called testware) is devised that will administer to a person only test items at a level (of
item difficulty in an aptitude test or, for example, of degree of anxiousness in a personality test of anxiety) that
will prove critical for measuring that trait in this specific person. Advances in testing theory and PC technology
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have made it possible to develop such computer-aided testing methods also for in-field applications (Pawlik,
As is true of many fields of psychology, the history of assessment and testing has also seen its share of ad
hoc initiatives and even nonproductive sidelines. Two examples may suffice. In the 1920s, the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach sought to develop an objective test of psychopathology. Following extensive
clinical experience with hospitalized psychotics he settled on a series of ten plates with symmetric meaningfree graphic displays, as one would obtain by folding and subsequently unfolding a page with random ink
splashes. In Rorschach’ Formdeuteversuch (form interpretation study) patients were presented one plate after the other with the simple instruction to tell the experimenter ‘what they think they could see on this plate’.
In an often-quoted publication Rorschach presented evidence that a person’ responses, evaluated on the basis of a detailed scoring system, would differentiate between, for example, schizophrenics and depressives.
What seemed an interesting, suggestive new approach to clinical-psychological assessment later got mystified, however, when authors (mostly from depth psychological schools of thinking; cf. Chapter 16) claimed
that tests of such a design would give rise to a new ‘projective’ personality assessment. According to their
reasoning a person would perceive (interpret) a Rorschach plate according to her/his personal style of experiencing, including her/his ‘unconscious’ (perhaps even repressed) motives, feelings, and anxieties—as if the
person would ‘project’ her/his own personality into her/his perception of this unstructured stimulus material. In
the decades to follow, a multitude of similarly conceived ‘pro-jective tests’ was developed, with most of them,
as a rule, falling short in psychometric quality and not even supporting the implied projection hypothesis. Still,
and despite negative psychometric quality assays, projective techniques continue to maintain a role in practical assessment work up to today, even a leading role in some regions of the world.
Another example of an assessment medium of supposedly high validity and still in use in some quarters despite its undoubtedly low to zero psychometric quality is handwriting analysis (graphology). Here again the
underlying rationale seemed straightforward at first glance; obviously, the individual style of handwriting identifies a person with next-to-perfect precision—so that state authorities or banks have come to use a person’
signature as proof of his/her identity. Then should not personal style of handwriting also be an indicator of a
person’ unique personality? Despite intuitive plausibility, this expectation has not stood empirical psychometric tests (as will be referenced briefly in Section 20.6). Still this does not seem to prevent some psychologists
and, still more so, laymen and even major business firms to rely on this unreliable assessment methodology
for job placement and career decisions. In addition to handwriting a wide range of other so-called expressive
motions (or products thereof), such as facial expression, style of gross body motion, drawings, story completion, picture interpretation, art appreciation, etc. have been proposed, largely without great psychometric
success, as alternative means for dispositional trait assessment. However recent research has shown that
some of these methods, for example facial expression analysis, do contain valid variance for emotional state
assessment, if properly recorded and scored (cf. Section 20.6).
20.2 Heuristics and Goals of Psychological Assessment
As will be obvious from the preceding section, methods of psychological assessment may be employed for
different purposes and to answer widely different types of questions. In essence, one can distinguish among
the following three prototypical heuristics in psychological assessment.
(1) Descriptive assessment: Let us take as an example an adolescent in the final highschool year seeking
vocational guidance as to which academic or professional training to take up after graduation. In a typical
vocational guidance center this person will be invited to take a number of psychological tests, including a
multi-dimensional interest questionnaire. In this the person will be asked to respond to a range of questions
selected so as to sample salient interests and motives (for example: dealing with people vs. dealin…
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