The Acceptance And Ethics Of Computerbased Psychologicalassessment

Now after almost 40 years, where does computer-based psychological assessment stand in the field of professional psychology in terms of user acceptance? Recent evidence shows that applied psychologists have substantially endorsed computer-based psychological assessment, although as a group, clinicians are seemingly reluctant to endorse or use new technological developments in their practice (McMinn, Buchanan, Ellens, & Ryan, 1999). The actual use of computer-scored test results is unclear. One recent survey of practitioners found that 67.8% of respondents used computer scoring of psychological tests and 43.8% also used computer-derived reports in their practice (Downey, Sinnett, & Seeberger, 1998). However, Camara, Nathan, and Puente (2000) reported that only about 10% of neuropsychologists and clinical psychologists score tests by computer.

When computer-based assessment was in its infancy, there was a concern that ethical problems could result from handing over a professionally sensitive task like personality assessment to computers. Some authorities (e.g., Matarazzo, 1986) expressed concerns that individual clinicians might defer important clinical decisions to computers, thereby ignoring the client in the assessment process. Such reliance upon machines to provide clinical assessments could result in unethical and irresponsible judgments on the part of the practitioner. However, these arguments were answered by Fowler and Butcher (1986), who noted that psychologists use computer-based psychological reports not as a final polished report but as one source of information that is available to the practitioner who is responsible for decisions made about clients. Most authorities in the computer-based area as well as several professional organizations that have provided practical guidelines for computer based assessment, such the Guidelines for Computer-Based Tests and Interpretations of the American Psychological Association (1986) and the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing by the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council on Measurement in Education (1999) have supported the ethical use of computer-based psychological assessment.

How do present-day clinicians feel about the ethics of computerized assessment? The earlier concerns over computer-based test usage seem to have waned considerably with the growing familiarity with computerized assessment. For example, in a recent survey concerning computer-based test use (McMinn et al. 1999), most respondents thought that use of computer-based assessment was an ethical practice.

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