Notes – Behavioural observations in psychological testing & assessment

Behavioural observations
● Covers pertinent observations related to establishing rapport, as well as behaviours
during the assessment, such as levels of attention, motivation, persistence and
● Provides a basis on which to state whether the results of testing are valid
● This section is devoted primarily to behaviours observed during testing sessions but
can include observations in other settings (e.g., classroom, waiting room). When nontest behaviours are incorporated into this section, explain whether these were
consistent with those observed during testing
● Relates to behaviours observed across different subtests/assessment tasks
administered. Do not refer to behaviour that only relates to a specific subtest. This
would go in the test results section
● Consider the referral question and background information when describing observed
behaviours during testing. In general, review the concern (e.g., inattention) and
determine if present behaviours are consistent or inconsistent with concern
○ If consistent, note specific examples (e.g., John often got distracted by the
pictures in the room and had to be redirected to tasks)
○ If inconsistent, note the differences between the behaviours reported and those
that were actually observed. Generate hypotheses that will be supported or
rejected later
● Whereas previously mentioned background information can be discussed in the
behaviours section, do not bring test results or performance on specific tests or
subtests into the behavioural observations section
Example Behavioural Observation:
John was dressed casually, stereotypical to same-aged peers, and demonstrated appropriate
hygiene and grooming. He was of average height and weight. Rapport was easily established
as John presented as a quiet, polite, and cooperative young man. He attempted to answer all
questions and made few spontaneous comments. While John appeared to be motivated during
the testing, he raised repeated concerns about whether he was completing the tasks correctly
and made comments including “I know that was the wrong answer.” Additionally, John’s
mood seemed to be depressed and his affect was restricted. These observations were
consistent with John’s diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. Despite this, John’s thought
content was clear and organised throughout testing, indicating that the results presented are
likely to be valid.

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