Q1. Describe the various sources for psychological assessment.
Psychological assessment comprises a variety of procedures that are employed in diverse ways to achieve numerous purposes. Assessment has sometimes been equated with testing, but the assessment process goes beyond merely giving tests. Psychological assessment involves integrating information gleaned not only from test protocols, but also from interview responses, behavioral observations, collateral reports, and historical documents. Listed below are the various sources for Psychological Assessment:
- Recorded Data: Every human being can be assessed based on some factors such as age, gender, etc. which play a crucial role in their psychological makeup. The data about the person covering various actuarial and biographical aspects such as life history, educational, professional and medical record are typically a part of his file. This data is easy to capture and validate. The high reliability makes it indispensable to the assessment process. Apart from this, the case history of the patient is also recorded and plays a crucial part in the assessment.
- Interviews: A clinical interview is a dialogue between psychologist and patient that is designed to help the psychologist diagnose and plan treatment for the patient. It is often called 'a conversation with a purpose.' Most psycho-diagnostic assessments include an interview for establishing personal contact and an atmosphere of trust. Typically interviews have four major functions: administration, treatment, research and prevention. As a rule clinical assessments will start out with an exploratory interview in which the psychologist will seek to focus the problem at hand and collect information for deriving assessment hypothesis. Intake interview and Mental Status Examination are two types of interviews.
- Question Inventories: Questionnaires have several strengths. They are inexpensive, easily administered, and easily interpreted. Furthermore, there are a vast number of questionnaires that can be used to evaluate a wide array of target behaviors (e.g., see Hersen & Bellack, 1988, for a compilation of behavioral assessment inventories). Questionnaires can be used for a number of behavioral assessment goals, including operationalization, identification of functional relationships, and treatment design. MMPI, STAI, BDI etc. make use of question inventories.
- Projective Techniques: A projective test is a “relatively unstructured task, that is, a task that permits almost an unlimited variety of possible responses. In order to allow free play to the individual’s fantasy, only brief, general instructions are provided”. The responses to projective tests are content analyzed for meaning rather than being based on presuppositions about meaning, as is the case with objective tests. The common variants include Rorshach’s Test, Holtzman’s Inkblot test, Thematic Apperception Test, Draw-A-Person test, Animal Metaphor Test, Sentence Completion Test, Picture Arrangement Test, Word Association Test etc.
- Behavior-related techniques: These techniques are related to the behavior of the individual. They involve observing and understanding the various aspect of behavior using various techniques. These can be structure or unstructured. Here’s the list of various techniques:
- Behavioral assessment interviewing: the assessor structures questions that prompt the client to provide information about the topography and function of target behaviors. Topographical questions direct the client to describe the mode and parameters of target behaviors, causal factor occurrences, or both. Functional questions direct the client to provide information about how target behaviors may be affected by possible causal factors.
- Behavior ratings: The person is asked to rate his or her own behavior or the behavior of someone else on a given rating scale. The rating scale could be a set of characteristics, judgement scales, or checklist items. This methods helps the psychologist to assess the mental representations of the person who is doing the rating.
- Expressive Behavior: The term expressive behavior refers to the expressions of a person in various states. By observing the expressive behavior the psychologist can draw explicit of implicit inferences about the person’s state of mind, emotional tension, feeling state etc. The expressive behavior is not only limited to facial expressions but also includes gross bodily movement expression.
- Observation: Systematic observations can be conducted by nonparticipant observers and participant observers. Because observation relies on visual recording, this method is restricted to the measurement of observable actions. Nonparticipant observers are trained observation technicians who record target behaviors and causal factors using any of the sampling methods. Professional observers, research assistants, and volunteers have been used to collect observational data in treatment outcome studies.
- Trace: This method has not been proved to be very strong in terms of acceptable validity criteria. It refers to the physical traces of human behavior like handwriting specimens, products of art and expression, left-overs after play in a children’s playground, stule of self-devised living environment at home, attributes of a person’s appearance and attire.
- Less-structured methods: Include asking clients to think aloud, observing private speech of children, asking clients to articulate their thoughts, production and endorsement methods, thought listing, thought sampling and event recording.
- Computerised assessment: Using the advanced technological tools for NeuroImaging to assess the activities in the brain and correlate them to the condition of the patient and his behavior helps in the process of psychological assessment.
- Psycho-physiological Techniques: Based on the idea that monitoring psycho physiological system parameters relating to variations in behavior can be used for psychological assessment. In one kind of psycho physiological assessment one or several of the psycho physiological parameters are recorded while the person is shown different stimuli. Example: One measures the orienting response in electric skin conductance to simple tones of medium intensity. It’s been shown that schizophrenic patients will follow more frequently than normals a non-responder pattern showing less clear orienting reactions than normals to these stimuli. A recent innovation in psycho physiological assessment refers to stable, genetically linked biological covariants of personality and aptitude development.
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Psychological assessment includes assessing the psychology of an individual. This can be achieved by using various sources such as Recorded data, Interviews, Question Inventories, Projective Techniques, Behavior related techniques (which further include behavior assessment interviewing, behavior ratings, expressive behavior, observation, behavioral traces, and other less structured methods), computerized assessment techniques and Psycho physiological techniques. Often these techniques are not used in isolation. They are used in tandem with one or more of the techniques – ex. the question inventory may be conducted together with an interview.
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