Most psychologists attest to the potential of computers as powerful tools to test methods during psychological assessments. The introduction of computers in the 1950s was found to be very significant in facilitating scores, data management and analysis of results. In this review article, Butcher and colleagues (2004) aim to discuss the history and state of personality and neuropsychological tests that are processed through computers and how such method may be both helpful and problematic in the interpretation of the assessments of psychological data. Further, some issues regarding test interpretations through the computer were also emphasized along with the problems in using psychological assessments through the internet.
Personality assessment is one of the most common computer-based evaluation methods. Despite the advances in this field of psychological assessment, there still remains a question about the validity of the instrument when it is integrated with computers. The validity of the computer-based instrument relies on the acuity of the system to detect the fake over good instruments as well the fake and good profiles on the MMPI-2.
While personality assessments are deemed cost-effective and more comprehensive as compared to that of the individual interpreter’s report, Butcher et al. (2004) suggested that clinicians who are administering the test must ensure that there is a careful consideration of their client’s knowledge or background about the test. Clinicians must also undergo training in interpreting the computer-based results of a particular test to avoid making faulty inferences.
Some studies do not encourage the use of computer-based neuropsychological assessment because of the differences in the standards of a paper and pencil test and a computer-based test. Such differences in the standards become problematic because of the difficulty in comparison of the results from two completely different methods. Although there are certain limitations in the computerized neuropsychological assessment such as those that determine the actual activity in the neural circuitry, computerized test can become a promising method in pediatric neuropsychological assessment (Luciana, 2003).
Weiss (1985) defined an adaptive test as the best measure of the psychological characteristic of an individual. Based on the definition of Weiss (1985), the test intends to lower the amount of time to make a credible psychological assessment of an individual. The models were developed to facilitate the assessment of a complete range of personality. However, it should be noted that the most available psychometric measures do not cover for a full range personality test. Adaptive tests should not be recommended in assessments that require high validity and reliability.
Computerized psychological assessments via internet have significantly expanded over the years. However, some of the applications do not meet the standards of the American Psychiatric Association guidelines. Some of the problems that are connected with the internet-based include assuring equivalent test-taking attitudes, appropriate test norms for an internet application, test validity and test security. Although the potential to administer psychological assessments and deliver services via internet is huge, it is very important for psychologist to address the said issues before administering these tests.
Butcher et al. (2004) provide a strong introduction of the topic as they argue that while the need for the use of computers in processing information is a boon, clinicians must also take note of the fact that there are also limitations in a computer-based interpretation of a test. This argument is also consistent to the findings of Berner and colleagues (1994).
Berner and colleagues (1994) clearly emphasized in their study that the two main criteria to determine the performance of the four computer-based diagnostics system involved accuracy and usefulness. It also is interesting to note that computer-based diagnosis may not be helpful in some healthcare providers because the measurement still depends on the subjective preference and need of the individual being surveyed.
Berner, E. S., Webster, G. D., Shugerman, A. A., Jackson, J. R., Algina, J., Baker, A. L., et al. (1994). Performance of Four Computer-based Diagnostic Systems. New England Journal of Medicine, 330(25):1792-1796.
Butcher, J.N., Perry, J. and Hahn, J. (2004). Computers in Clinical Assessment: Historical Developments, Present Status, and Future Challenges. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60(3), 331–345.
Luciana, M. (2003), Practitioner Review: Computerized Assessment of Neuropsychological Function in Children: Clinical and Research Applications of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Testing Automated Battery (CANTAB). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44: 649–663.
Weiss, D.J. (1985). Adaptive Testing by Computer. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53: 774–789.