• Psychological Assessment – the collection, organization, and interpretation if information about a
person and his or her situation. Examples of assessments:
• Astrology – study of stars.
• Physiognomy – interpretation of character based on physique and bearing.
Gave us the 1 psychological test.
• Goal of Psychological assessment includes Diagnosis and Description.
• Diagnosis – classifying a person’s problem within one of a set of recognized categories of abnormal
behavior and labeled accordingly. Homologous to medical evaluation.
o Criticisms of Diagnosis :
1. allegation that it’s purpose is to give psychiatrists control over other people’s
2. falsifies reality by implying that most AB is qualitatively different from normal
3. diagnosis is likely to discount the gradations between different forms of
4. diagnosis gives the illusion of explanation.
5. diagnostic labeling can be harmful to people
• All psychological assessment has 2 goals:
o Description – the rendering of an acute portrait of personality, cognitive functioning,
mood, and behavior. The science of human behavior aims to describe personality and
o Prediction – scientific hypotheses.
• The first truly comprehensive classification system for severe mental disorders was developed by
Kraepelin in the late 19 century. All later systems were influenced by his.
• Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) – a DSM is a manual
containing lists of diagnostic categories and associated symptoms. DSM-IV is the most recent
o Specific Diagnostic Criteria – criteria for diagnosis are highly detailed and specific,
• Essential Features of the disorder
• Associated Features that are usually present.
• Diagnostic Criteria: a list of symptoms that must be present.
• Info on Differential Diagnosis - data that explain how to distinguish this disorder
o 5 Axes of Diagnosis – DSMIV requires the diagnostician to give substantial amount of
info about patients.
• Axis I – Clinical Syndrome: for patient’s most serious psychological problem.
• Axis II- Personality Disorder/Mental Retardation: any accompanying long-term
disorder not under Axis I.
• Axis III- General Medical Disorders: any medical problem that may be relevant.
1 • Axis IV- Psychosocial and Environmental problems: current social, occupational,
environmental, or other problems that may have contributed to or are resulting
from the psychological problem.
• Axis V – Global Assessment of Functioning: a rating, on a scale of 1 to 100, of
the patient’s current adjustment (work performance, social relationships, use of
leisure time, etc).
• Prognosis – prediction of a patient’s problem’s future course.
• Reliability – the degree to which its findings can stand the test of repeated measurements. It must
be stable over time and under different testing conditions.
o 3 Criteria:
Internal Consistency- do different parts of the test yield the same results?
Test-Retest Reliability- does the test yield the same results when administered to
the same person at different times?
Interjudge Reliablity- does the test yield the same results when scored or
interpreted by different judges?
• Validity – a test must measure what it claims to be measuring.
o 2 Types:
Descriptive Validity: the degree to which it provides significant info about the
current behavior of the people being assessed. Describes the person’s current
• Pathognomic Symptoms – symptoms that accompany all cases of a given
disorder and that never accompany another disorder.
• Comorbidity – patients meet the diagnostic criteria for more than one Axis
Predictive Validity: helps us answer important questions about that behavior.
(Questions such as cause, prognosis, and treatment)
While an assessment technique that has high Reliability may have low Validity, the reverse is not true.
To have high Validity, a system must have high Reliability.
• Problems in Assessment:
o The Assessor – how his/her personal manner affects the person being assessed.
o Assessors interpretation of evidence – biasness
o Pathological Bias – a tendency to see sickness instead of health.
o Pragmatic Considerations – ex: applying a lesser label to avoid gossip(?)
• Interview – face-to-face conversation between subject and examiner. The oldest, most commonly
used, and most versatile assessment method. (Structured vs. Unstructured) Major pitfall of
interviewing is the assessor’s biasness.
• Psychological Test – a standard procedure in which persons are presented with a series of stimuli to
which they are asked to respond. Gives the subject little freedom in responding, but can be scored
more easily and more objectively. More structured than the interview. Psychometric Approach – the
most dominant method of psychological testing. The aim is to locate stable underlying
characteristics, or Traits, that presumably exist in differing degrees in everyone. Its supporters claim