Assessment Methods

The second part presents the current state of the art—the most important measurement methods in modern psychology, which comprise traditional methods like self-report as well as the most recent developments in brain imaging and Web-based methods. Not all methods applied in psychology can be presented, and selections had to be made.

This selection was guided by the goal of presenting methods at the basic level, which can be combined to understand more complex assessment strategies. For example, you will not find a chapter on interviewing, as an interview situation combines many more basic methods (e.g., self-report, observational methods, informant assessment, and text-analysis of the transcript of the interview). The handbook focuses more on assessment methods than on research methods in general. It follows the tradition of Campbell and Fiske's (1959) multimethod approach; therefore, we present methods that can be used to measure human behavior, attitudes, and feeling. We do not present research methods to test theories without assessing humans (e.g., animal studies and computer simulation techniques). These methods may hold importance for multi-method research in general, but they are less significant for assessment purposes. We use the term multimethod, in most cases, in the sense of applying different methods for measuring human beings although some chapters also refer to multimethod research programs in the sense of applying different research strategies (e.g., experimental vs. nonexper-imental research).

Moreover, we focus on widely applied and established methods, including more recent developments (like brain imaging). Some new methods may have a high potential for psychological assessment and measurement but are less established, with a status more comparable to research methods. Some of these methods include virtual environment technology (Blascovich et al., 2002) and molecular genetic analysis (e.g., Caspi et al., 2003) and are not considered in this volume.

The handbook covers the most basic assessment methods that are relevant for a thorough understanding of human behavior, attitudes, and feelings. These include self-report (Lucas & Baird, this volume, chap. 3), informant assessment (Neyer, this volume, chap. 4), ability tests (Lubinski, this volume, chap. 8), implicit methods (Robinson & Neighbors, this volume, chap. 9), observational methods (Bakeman & Gnisci, this volume, chap. 10), physiological and biochemical methods (Berntson & Cacioppo, this volume, chap. 12), functional neuroimaging (Zald & Curtis, this vol ume, chap. 13), nonreactive methods (Fritsche & Linneweber, this volume, chap. 14), and assessment methods of experimental psychology (Erdfelder & Müsch, this volume, chap. 15).

The revolution taking place in the area of computer technologies has also strongly influenced psychological assessment methods and the development of new assessment strategies like computerized ambulatory assessment methods (Stone & Litcher-Kelly, this volume, chap. 5), Web-based methods (Reips, this volume, chap. 6), computerized testing (Drasgow & Chuah, this volume, chap. 7), and computerized forms of text analysis (Mehl, this volume, chap. 11), which are also described.

Multimethod research is also necessary to analyze the generalizability of results across research settings. Although experiments in the laboratory remain indispensable in psychology, they have severe limitations. The high guarantee of internal validity possible in randomized laboratory experiments does not guarantee external validity (Shadish et al., 2002). The artificial uncorrelatedness of independent variables in experimental studies might not represent the naturally occurring covariation of these causal variables in real life (Brunswik, 1956). Processes that might explain behavior, attitudes, and feelings in a laboratory might not explain everyday behavior in the real world. The analysis of the generalizability of results, which is labeled external validity, requires a research plan that comprises several research settings. Besides experimental research contexts (Erdfelder & Müsch, this volume, chap. 15), psychological research has concentrated on the development of methodological research strategies that focus on individual behavior in natural environments such as experience sampling methods (Stone & Litcher-Kelly, this volume, chap. 5) and nonreactive methods (Fritsche & Linneweber, this volume, chap. 14). Moreover, cross-sectional studies that focus on analyzing interindividual differences need to be complemented by longitudinal studies (Khoo, West, Wu, & Kwok, this volume, chap. 21) to verify if the results can be generalized to explaining intraindi-vidual processes. An intelligent combination of laboratory and field-assessment strategies, as well as of cross-sectional and longitudinal approaches, estab lishes a much more powerful research design, which permits an in-depth analysis of issues of external validity; the pursuit of one single research paradigm will not provide such results. Hence, this handbook also focuses on different research strategies and situations, particularly on research contexts outside the laboratory (e.g., experience sampling and nonreactive methods).

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