BEHAVIOURAL AND COGNITIVE ASSESSMENT:
traditional assessment concentrates on measuring underlying personality structures and traits, such as obsessiveness...
behavioural and cognitively oriented clinicians often use a system that involves the assessment of four sets of variables,
sometimes referred to by the acronym SORC.
S stands for stimuli, the environmental situations that precede the problem.
O stands for organismic, referring to both psychological and psychological factors assumed to be
operating under the skin.
R refers to overt responses. These probably receive the most attention from behavioural
clinicians, who must determine what behaviour is problematic, as well as the behaviours
frequency intensity and form.
C refers to consequent variables, events that appear to be reinforcing or punishing the behaviour
As might be expected, O variable are underplayed by Skinnerians, who focus more on observable stimuli and
responses and C variables receive less attention from cognitively oriented behaviour therapists than do O variables
because these therapists’ paradigm does not emphasize reinforcement.
Cognitive-behavioural case formulation: place considerably more emphasis on cognitive events such as people’s
distorted thinking patterns, negative self-instructions, irrational automatic thought and beliefs and schemas.
The information necessary for a behavioural or cognitive assessment is gathered by several methods; direct
observation, interviews and self-reports, and various other methods.
Direct Observation of Behaviour:
formal behavioural observation: the observer divides the uninterrupted sequence of behaviour into various parts and
applies terms that make sense within a learning framework.
Behaviour therapists and researchers ask individuals to observe their own behaviour and to keep track of various
categories of response self-monitoring.
Used to collect a wide variety of data in real time as opposed to the more usual methods of having people reflect back
over some time period and report on recently experienced thoughts, moods and stressors (diaries, palm-top computers
with alarms to start recording behaviour, thoughts...)
The main reason for using EMA is that the retrospective recall of mods, thoughts or experiences may be inaccurate.
Memory researchers have shown not only that simple forgetting leads to inaccurate retrospective recall, but also that
recalled information can be biased. A report of a person’s mood for a whole day is overly influenced by moods the person
has experienced most recently.
considerable research indicates that behaviour may be altered by the very fact that it is being self-monitored.
reactivity: phenomenon of behaviour changing because it is being observed.
In general, desirable behaviour such as engaging in social conversation often increases in frequency when self-
monitored, whereas behaviour the person wishes to reduce such as cigarette smoking diminishes.
Interviews and Self-Report Inventories:
Within a trusting relationship, the behaviour therapist’s job is to determine, by skilful questioning and careful
observation of the client’s emotional reactions during the interview, the factors that help the therapist conceptualize the
behaviour therapists also make use of self-report inventories but have a greater situation focus than traditional
The most widely employed cognitive assessment methods are also self-report questionnaires that tap a wide range of
cognitions, such as fear of negative evaluation, a tendency to think irrationally and a tendency to make negative
inferences about life experiences.
SPECIALIASED APPROACHES TO COGNITIVE ASSESSMENT: A key feature of contemporary approaches in cognitive assessment is that the development of methods is
determined by theory as well as by the purposes of the assessment (eg; much research on depression concerned
One cognitive theory holds that depression is caused primarily by negative ideas people have about themselves,
their world, and their future.
These pessimistic attitudes or schemas, bias the way in which depressed people interpret events.
Researchers emplying cognitive assessment set themselves the task of trying to identify these different kinds of
One assessment device used in this context is the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale (DAS).
o Researchers have shown that they can differentiate between depressed and non-depressed people on
the basis of their scores on this scale and that scores decrease (i.e improve) after interventions that
The articulated Thoughts in Simulated Situations (ATSS) method is one way to assess immediate thoughts in
o In this procedure, a person pretends that he is a participant in a situation, such as listening to a T.A
criticize a term paper. Presented on audio tape, the scene pauses every 10 or 15 second. During the
ensuing 30 seconds of silence, the participant talks aloud about whatever is going through his or her mind
in reaction to the words just heard.
o Research using this method indicated that socially anxious therapy patients articulate thoughts of greater
irrationality (eg; “oh god, i wish i were dead, i’m so embarrassed”) than do non-anxious members of
o In a study that directly compared ATSS data with overt behaviour, thoughts of positive self-efficacy wee
found to be inversely related to behaviourally indexed speech anxiety; the more anxiously subjects
behaved on a timed behavioural checklist measure of public-speaking anxiety, the less capable they felt
they were while articulating thoughts in a stressful, simulated speech giving situation.
Thought-listing: the person writes down his thoughts prior to or following an event of interest, such as entering a
room to talk to a stranger, as a way to determine the cognitive components of social anxiety.
Open-ended techniques, such as the ATSS and thought listing, may be preferable when investigators know
relatively little about the participant and want to get general ideas about the cognitive terrain.
Videotape-Reconstruction: involves videotaping an individual while they are engaged in some task or an actual or