COLLECTING ASSESSMENT INFORMATION 3 Formulating Goals 4 Selecting Tests 4 Examiner Issues 7 Respondent Issues 8 Data Management Issues 9 INTERPRETING ASSESSMENT INFORMATION 11 Basis of Inferences and Impressions 11
Malingering and Defensiveness 17 Integrating Data Sources 19 UTILIZING ASSESSMENT INFORMATION 20 Bias and Base Rates 20 Value Judgments and Cutting Scores 21 Culture and Context 22 REFERENCES 23
Assessment psychology is the field of behavioral science concerned with methods of identifying similarities and differences among people in their personal characteristics and capacities. As such, 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not only from test protocols, but also from interview responses, behavioral observations, collateral reports, and historical documents. The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association [AERA], American Psychological Association, and National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999) specify in this regard that the use of tests provides one method of collecting information within the larger framework of a psychological assessment of an individual Apsychological assessment is a comprehensive examination undertaken to answer specific questions about a client's psychological functioning during a particular time interval or to predict a client's psychological functioning in the future. (p. 119)
The diverse ways in which assessment procedures are employed include many alternative approaches to obtaining and combining information from different sources, and the numerous purposes that assessment serves arise in response to a broad range of referral questions raised in such companion fields as clinical, educational, health, forensic, and industrial/ organizational psychology. Subsequent chapters in this volume elaborate the diversity of assessment procedures, the nature of the assessment questions that arise in various settings, and the types of assessment methods commonly employed to address these questions.
This introductory chapter sets the stage for what is to follow by conceptualizing assessment as a three-stage process comprising an initial phase of information input, a subsequent phase of information evaluation, and a final phase of information output. Information input involves collecting assessment data of appropriate kinds and in sufficient amounts to address referral questions in meaningful and useful ways. Information evaluation consists of interpreting assessment data in a manner that provides accurate descriptions of respondents' psychological characteristics and behavioral tendencies. Information output calls for utilizing descriptions of respondents to formulate conclusions and recommendations that help to answer referral questions. Each of these phases of the assessment process requires assessors to accomplish some distinctive tasks, and each involves choices and decisions that touch on critical issues in conducting psychological assessments.
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