Article summaries about Developmental Psychology

A collection of article summaries about Developmental Psychology, based on the course 'Developmental Psychology' at the University of Amsterdam (psychology - 2020-2021).

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When one size doesn’t fit all: temperament-based parenting interventions - Allen - 2015 - Article

When one size doesn’t fit all: temperament-based parenting interventions - Allen - 2015 - Article

In the research area of parenting and child psychopathology, there is a growing awareness of the need for early intervention and prevention work. Although recently various developments have occurred regarding parenting interventions for a variety of childhood mental disorders, there are still a lot of problems with current "best practice" parenting interventions. Common problems in these interventions are: (1) the lack of family engagement; (2) failure to achieve clinically significant improvements for a substantial number of families, and; (3) maintaining the treatment gains over time. The general question that is left unanswered is: "What works best for whom?" In this paper, a review is presented regarding the research and theory about the influence of the relationship between child temperament and parenting on the development of child psychopathology and social-emotional skills. Knowledge from this research can be used to inform the selection and assessment of families in early intervention and prevention programs, as well as the specific content and delivery of parenting interventions.

The main outcome of this review paper is that temperatent-based parenting programs, even though they are still at an early stage in terms of evaluation, seem to offer a promising avenue for the treatment of children with a wider range of mental health problems. Temperament-based parenting programs aim to tailor existing parenting strategies to provide a better "fit" for families on the basis of the child's temperament profile. Temperament is a biologically-based, relatively stable personality trait, consisting of affective, attentional, sensory, and behavioural response systems. Temperament has been shown to have important influences on the development of children. Moreover, research has shown that certain temperament traits or combinations of traits and family risk factors increase the risk for later psychopathology, allowing children and families who are most in need of support to be identified. In line with this, child temperament research has been used to inform the content of parenting interventions. All in all, research suggests that parenting tailored to match children's unique temperament profile may promote self-regulation and reduce emotional and behavioural problems. Yet, because temperament is a relatively stable trait, the child's temperament itself seems difficult to alter. Instead, altering the parenting style seems to provide a promising way of reducing children's emotional and behavioral problems.

Understanding ethnic differences in mental health service use for adolescent's internalizing problems: the role of emotional problem identification - Verhulp et. al - 2013 - Article

Understanding ethnic differences in mental health service use for adolescent's internalizing problems: the role of emotional problem identification - Verhulp et. al - 2013 - Article

Generally, adolescents are at an increased risk of developing internalizing problems. However, only a small percentage of these adolescents receives mental health care. Furthermore, although immigrant adolescents are at least at equal risk of developing internalizing problems as their non-immigrant peers, they are even less likely to use mental health care. Why do immigrant adolescents make so little use of mental health care? The present study is the first to examine ethnic differences in problem identification as a possible explanation for this disparity in mental health service use.

To examine the ethnic differences in problem identification as a possible source of seeking less help, this study examined data of 349 parents and adolescents living in the Netherlands. One group of native Dutch people was examined (95 participants) and three different immigrant populations: Surinamese (85 participants), Turkish (87 participants) and Moroccan (82 participants). To avoid language difficulties, Turkish and Morrocan immigrant parents were interviewed by an interviewer from their own ethnic group in their own language.

Information was gathered regarding: (1) internalizing problem symptoms; (2) emotional problem identification; (3) mental health service use; (4) ethnicity, and; (5) educational level. A mediation model was developed in which emotional problem identification was tested as a mediator for the relationship between ethnicity and mental health service use.

The results indicated that mental health service use for internalizing problems is far lower among immigrant adolescents than among native Dutch adolescents. It should be noted, however, that there were substantial differences between immigrant groups. More specifically, the percentage of participants using mental health services is: Dutch (22%), Surinamese (18%), Turkish (15%), Moroccan (9%). Thus, especially the Moroccan adolescents are making far less use of mental health care service. Next, the mediating role of problem identification was confirmed in this study. That is, a lack of emotional problem identification seemed to be an essential mediator in the relationship between immigrant status and mental health service use. More specifically, immigrant parents seem to be less likely to identify their children's internalizing problems. And this offers an important explanation as to why their children do not receive mental health care.

Cognition in aging and age-related disease - Kensinger - 2009 - Article

Cognition in aging and age-related disease - Kensinger - 2009 - Article

In recent years, it has become clear that significant cognitive decline is not an inevitable consequence of aging. Some people, in fact most people, do not show significant decline as get older. In fact, there are three different effects aging can have on cognitive functioning. First, for most people, aging is associated with relatively little cognitive decline. This is called healthy aging or successful aging. Common cognitive declines for people with healthy aging are: problems with paying attention to relevant information and ignoring irrelevant information; word-finding difficulties, and; problems with remembering the context in which information was learned. Second, for some people, memory declines significantly with age, yet it does not prevent the performance of daily activities. This type is also called mild cognitive impairment. Third, for others, aging is associated with severe cognitive deficits, such that these deficits hinder daily functioning and impede the ability to live independently. This type of cognition in aging is also called dementia. In this chapter, the cognitive changes are discussed that are associated with healthy aging as well as the theories that are being developed to explain these cognitive changes. Further, these age-related declines are contrasted with the ones that are common in mild cognitive impairment and dementia (specifically: Alzheimer's disease). .

There are two main sets of theories that explain the cognitive changes in aging. First, the domain-general theories state that there is one central or core shared ability underlying all of the tasks on which older adults are impaired. Three such core abilities have been proposed to explain the cognitive declines: (1) sensory deficits; (2) inhibition, and; (3) speed of processing. According to the first, the cognitive declines may be attributed to changes in sensation (i.e., deficits in vision and hearing). According to the second, cognitive declines are related to older adults' inability to ignore information in the environment, while focusing on goal-relevant information. Hence, it suggests that the cognitive declines can be explained by the growing inhibitory deficits of older adults. Third, older adults have a slower speed of processing than younger adults, which may explain not only the slower responses at the motor level, but also the slower responses at the cognitive level.

The domain-general theories can be contrasted with the domain-specific theories of cognitive aging. According to these domain-specific theories, age-related cognitive decline cannot be explained by a single shared ability, but rather by changes that have a larger impact on one area of cognition than on another. For instance, it appears that older adults often have difficulties retrieving the appropriate name for a person, place, or thing. One may say "it is on the tip of my tongue", implying that a person has access to a word's meaning, but does not remember the phonological features of the word. Some researchers have suggested that these word-finding difficulties arise from the fact that, with age, the links connecting one unit to another in the memory system become weaker. Hence, more links have to be "active" to recall the correct name for an object of person. Similarly, although older adults with healthy aging processes are generally quite good at remembering people or items, they seem to encounter difficulties remembering the contextual details of an event. Where did the event take place? Research suggests two broad types of domain-specific memorial deficits underlying this decreased ability to remember contextual information. First, older adults have difficulties with initiating affecting encoding strategies that would promote memory for the associative details of an experience. In short, older adults appear to express deficits at encoding. Second, older adults seem to have difficulties either forming a long-lasting "link" between an item and its context, or in retrieving that link representation.

In the above sections, we discussed some cognitive deficits that are common in healthy aging. There are, however, still many cognitive functions preserved. Examples are: crystallized intelligence (i.e., the ability to retrieve and use information that has been acquired throughout a lifetime) and emotional regulation.

A lot of studies have been conducted examining the neural changes with healthy aging, using structural MRI, functional MRI, or PET. The vast majority of these studies have shown that the largest changes in structure and function occur in the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal lobe. There is, for instance, evidence of atrophy in both the gray and white matter in the prefrontal cortex. Other brain regions, such as the cortical and subcortical regions, remain relatively preserved across the lifespan.

As mentioned above, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) show more than "healthy" cognitive declines, yet this does not hinder their daily functioning. A diagnosis of MCI requires subjective memory complaints, and impairment in one area of cognition with scores at least 1.5 standard deviations below age-scaled norms, but with deficits not severe enough to interfere with daily living and functioning (which would result in a diagnosis of dementia). Note, however, that there are many commonalities between MCI and Alzheimer's disease in the neuropathological and genetic features. Both people with MCI and Alzheimer's disease have significant structural and functional changes in the medial temporal lobe, as well as alterations in the concentration of amyloid-beta protein.

Dementia can have many different causes, although Alzheimer's disease is the most common one, accounting for two thirds of all patients with dementia. As Alzheimer's disease, which was first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1907, can only be confirmed by autopsy, its clinical diagnosis must be an exclusionary one. That is, there must be memory impairment plus decline in at least one other area of cognition (language, motor function, attention, executive function, personality, or object recognition). The deficits have a gradual onset and progress continually over time and irreversibly. The most notable deficit for patients with Alzheimer's disease is the inability to remember information encountered in the recent past (episodic memory). In fact, episodic memory is the best way of distinguishing people with Alzheimer's disease from healthy older adults. Although the episodic memory is heavily affected by AD, the semantic memory (general world knowledge) is relatively spared with mild AD. Yet, this may get worse, as the disease progresses. With regard to the brain regions, we see the following with AD: in the beginning, the medial-temporal lobe regions are most affected, while later on plaques and tangles are apparent throughout various regions in the brain.

A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety - Moffitt et. al - 2011 - Article

A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety - Moffitt et. al - 2011 - Article

Summary with the article: A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety - Moffitt et. al - 2011

To improve citizen's health and wealth, policy-makers are considering large-scale programs aimed at self-control. Self-control refers to the ability to delay gratification, control impulses, and modulate emotional expression. It is one of the earliest and most ubiquitous demands that society places on their children. However, one question remains to be answered before policy-makers can decide on actually implementing such programs. That is, whether self-control can be proven to be important for the health, wealth, and public safety of the population. This question is the main research question in the present study.

In this study, a cohort of 1,000 children was followed from birth to the age of 32. Throughout these years, the participants were examined on their level of self-control. SIn fact, success at many life tasks critically depends on children's mastery of such self-control, health (e.g., physical health index, level of depression, and so forth), wealth (e.g., SES, financial struggles, and so forth), and public safety (e.g., criminal conviction). The results indicate that childhood self-control predicts physical health, substance dependence, personal finances, and criminal offending outcomes according to a gradient of self-control. These effects could be disentangled from the participants' intelligence and social class, as well as from mistakes they made as adolescents. In addition, a cohort of 500 sibling-pairs was followed. The results from these sibling-pairs showed that the sibling with lower self-control had poorer outcomes, despite their shared background.

To conclude, self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Hence, interventions addressing self-control may reduce societal costs, save taxpayers money, and promote prosperity.

Where do personality tests originate? - Gregory - 2012 - Article

Where do personality tests originate? - Gregory - 2012 - Article

Summary of the article Where do personality tests originate? - Gregory - 2012

Personality: An overview

Personality is a vague concept, but we can distinguish two characteristics. First, each person is consistent to a certain level, we have coherence characteristics and action patterns that occur repeatedly. Second, each person is distinctive to a certain level. Personality describes the differences in behavior between people and the consistency of behavior within a person.

Psychoanalytic theories

Psychoanalysis was a creation by Sigmund Freud. Freud developed his general theory of psychological functioning during the investigation of hysteria. His theory is about the unconscious as a foundation of psychological functioning. He said that our unconscious mind consists of thoughts and wishes that are too unacceptable to enter consciousness. The most significant motivations are therefore not in our consciousness. Freud also thought that these motivations came out in a hidden way in dreams. Early in the twentieth century, a large range of tests has been developed to expose Freud’s unconscious, such as inkblot testing, word association approaches and storytelling tests. These tests could supposedly expose the unconscious by interpreting the ambiguous and unstructured answers of the client in the right way. These tests have also had a major impact on personality tests.

According to Freud, the mind consists of three parts:

  1. Id: is completely in your unconscious mind and is the part that concerns instinctual need, such as eating, drinking, sexual gratification and the avoidance of pain. The id has one goal and that is to meet these needs immediately according to the pleasure principle. This principle means that there is an impulse towards the immediate fulfillment of the need without taking into account values, right or wrong, or morality (this is called the pleasure principle). The id also has no logic or sense of time (we are born with it).

  2. Ego: this is our consciousness. The goal of the ego is to mediate between the id and the reality. It is part of the id and a servant of it. The ego is therefore largely conscious and works according to the reality principle. It seeks realistic and safe ways to discharge the impulses coming from the id (this develops just after birth).

  3. Superego: the ethical part of our personality that develops in the first 5 years of our lives. The ego and superego have to compete with each other in order to obtain gratification or not. The superego is about the social standards of right and wrong that we learn from our parents. The superego is partly conscious, but largely unconscious. It tries to suppress the actions of the id and ego and its biggest weapon is to blame. The ego must therefore not only find a safe and realistic way to meet needs, but also a morally correct way to avoid punishment from the superego. The superego also has to do with the ideal ego. The ego measures itself with this ideal image and tries to get as close to it as possible. The ideal contains our goals and aspirations. When we fail to achieve our ideal, we can feel guilty and inferior.

The ego can do its work by having access to various mental strategies called defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms have three general characteristics. First, they supress fear that arises from conflicting demands of the id, superego and reality. Fear and defense mechanisms are complementary concepts for Freud. Secondly, defense mechanisms all operate unconsciously, even though they are carried out by the conscious ego. Third, they distort the inner and outer reality, so that fear can be reduced.

Psychotic defense mechanisms are the least healthy because they distort reality extremely. They include the denial of reality and the extreme distortion of reality (delusions). The second group of mechanisms is 'acting out' and consists of unadaptive behaviors, such as aggressive or impulsive behavior. Borderline mechanisms, the third group, ensure that the image of others (or of the self) changes from very good to very bad. They include the splitting of personality traits and projective identification. The fourth group are neurotic mechanisms and they include small changes of reality. Use is made of repression and displacement. Obsessive mechanisms are common and include, for example, the isolation of affect or intellectualization. The last group, 'mature' mechanisms, have the least change of reality and appear as convenient virtues. They include behaviors such as altruism, humor, suppression, anticipation or sublimation.

A test has been issued to score these defense mechanisms: The Defense Mechanism Rating Scale (DMRS). It is scored quantitatively and an Overall Defensive Functioning Score is issued. Instruments such as the DMRS can provide empirical validation for psychoanalytic theories, but their use requires a lot of training and time.

Types of personality theories

Friedman and Rosenman examined psychic variables that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. They concluded that people with a Type A behavioral pattern are more susceptible to this type of disease. Type A persons are always uncertain, regardless of their performance, often do not care about the feelings of competitors, are hostile and quickly irritated. They also feel a kind of pressure to have things done quickly. They often use multitasking. Several studies have been done to find further evidence that type-A behaviors are associated with an increased risk of CHD, but there are several results. The strongest evidence is found for white working people.

However, several studies have shown that Type A behavior is not a single risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but that it is more specific components of type A behavior that can cause this. The behavior can be measured by means of interviews or questionnaires. Questionnaires are less good, because non-verbal behavior can not be noticed, even though these are often signs of type A behavior.

Phenomenological theories of personality

Rogers has had the most influence within this approach. His contribution to personality theory, known as self-theory, has been extended and is admired by many psychology students. In addition, he helped to make the Q-technique popular.

This technique is a procedure for studying changes in the self-concept. The test consists of many cards where statements arise. The client must then, out of 100 of these cards, pile 9 stacks for which the amount of cards per stack is fixed, to create a kind of normal distribution. The cards that are most fitting to the client must be placed on one side and the cards that describe him least on the other side. The cards that he is indifferent about or can not decide on end up in the middle. The researcher can form the items himself according to the needs of the client. The scoring of this test is done by comparing the distribution with an already established standard. The test can also be scored as Rogers did: comparing an examinee’s self-sort with his or her ideal sort. The discrepancy is then used as an index for adjustment. His clients had to divide the stack twice with the following instructions: 1) self-sort, sort the cards to describe yourself as you see yourself today. 2) Ideal sort, sort the cards now to describe the ideal person, the person as you would like to be.

Behavioral and social learning theories

An important assumption is that many of the behaviors that characterize personality are taught. Behaviorists state that the environment forms and maintains behavior. They fundamentally disagree with the role that cognitions play in behavior. Social learning theories state that we learn expectations and rules about the environment and not just stimulus-response connections. Modern social learning theories state that cognitions influence actions.

Rotter developed the Internal - External Scale (IE Scale) to measure the internal / external locus of control. The locus of control refers to the source of things that happen to people. The IE Scale thus measures whether the participants feel that they have control over events (internal locus of control) or that the control does not lie with them (external locus of control). An internal locus is often more positive than an external locus of control.

Bandura developed the concept of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is about the extent to which people think they are able to respond / act on certain situations. It explains why good knowledge does not always deliver efficient actions. He has also drawn up measuring scales for self-efficacy, in which participants must indicate how well they find themselves functioning on certain tasks.

Trait conceptions of personality

A trait is every way in which an individual differs from another in the long term. The theories about this differ or they classify personality into categories or dimensions. Cattell distinguished between 'surface traits' and 'source traits'." Surface traits are obvious aspects of personality that are easy to see in behavior. 'Source traits' are the stable and constant sources of behavior. They are less visible, but more important for explanation of behavior. He analyzed underlying personality traits through factor analysis. This resulted in 16 personal traits with which he drew up the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF).

The five-factor model of personality states that five dimensions form the basis for personality. They have been explained by means of a fundamental lexical hypothesis: terms of personality traits have remained in the language because they provide important information about our interactions with others. In addition, there is also evolutionary support for this theory. The 5 traits contain differences between individuals related to basic evolutionary functions such as survival and reproduction. According to Goldbert, people ask themselves 5 questions when it comes to their interaction with others:

  1. Is X active and dominant or passive and a follower?

  2. Is X agreeable?

  3. Can I rely on X?

  4. Is X crazy or stable?

  5. Is X smart or stupid?

All these evaluations have, directly or indirectly, something to do with survival and reproduction. They also correspond to the 5 character traits.

In English the dimensions can be remembered with the acronym OCEAN:

  1. Openness to Experience

  2. Conscientiousness

  3. Extraversion

  4. Agreblenessen

  5. Neuroticismtests have emerged from

Several personality tests have been inspired by this, such as the NEO-PI-R and the NEO-FFI. There are various comments on trait approaches to personality. Firstly, it is not clear whether they cause behavior or only describe behavior. Secondly, the theories have a low predictive validity.

The projective hypotheses

In projective tests, participants are offered unclear stimuli and must respond with their own constructions. The projective hypothesis states that personal interpretation of ambiguous stimuli reflects the subconscious needs, motives and conflicts of the participant. Projective tests must be able to derive underlying personality processes from this. They are categorized into association tests, construction tests, completion tests, and expression tests.

Association techniques

The best-known association test is the Rorschach test, in which participants see pictures with ink stains and have to say what they see in them. A system has been developed for this called the Rorschach Performance Assessment (R-PAS). It defines exactly how the test should be taken, scored and interpreted. Thus the test is well standardized. In addition, interrater correlations show that the test is reliable.

However, validity is questionable. One study found correlations between subscore complexity and coping skills and thus demonstrates the validity of the test. Others argue that formal scoring is nonsensical, and that the test is only good as an addition to a diagnostic interview. The answers can give insight into personal, illogical and strange associations.

In addition, there are also other valid scoring systems for the Rorschacht test. The Rorschach Prognostic Rating Scale (RPRS) has a complicated point system where points are given with good answers and deducted with bad answers. The RPRS indicates the final scores in terms of how successful a treatment will be.

The TDI is especially useful in patients with mental disorder, ranging from slightly confusing thoughts to bizarre, schizophrenic disorganization. The TDI scores the answers to how strange and incoherent they are.

In spite of its extensive scoring systems, the Rorschach test is very controversial. In 1980, researchers conducted a study into susceptibility to faking. Informed and uninformed students, who pretended to have schizophrenia, were compared to persons who actually had schizophrenia. It turned out that the informed students were diagnosed more often than the real patients (72 versus 48 percent) and 42% of the uninformed students were diagnosed. The test was once developed for children, but is now mainly used in adults.

Completion techniques

In sentence-completion, participants receive 40-100 stems consisting of unfinished sentences and have to complete them. These sentences may contain certain themes that are thus unconsciously described. The tests can be scored subjectively and qualitatively as well as objectively and quantitatively.

The Rotter Incomplete Sentences Blank (RISB) is for high school students, students and adults. In the objective scores, each answer receives a score of 0 (positive addition) to 6 (negative addition). The reliability is good, even for people with little psychological knowledge. The validity is also good, because a certain cut-off score seems to predict the possible pathology of the participant.

A problem is, as with other self-reports, that you only find out what the client wants you to know and a single score can never include the nuances of personal functioning.

Construction techniques

The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) consists of 30 images on different topics and themes. The images are in black and white and one is blank. Some images are only used for a particular target group, such as adult, adult, male, female or a combination of these.

20 images exist for each target group. The participant must then tell a story about what happens on the image. It is often seen that certain themes recur in the stories. These recurring themes then say something about the person. There are many scoring systems, but usually it comes down to the qualitative interpretation of the test taker. The fact that there is no standardized way makes it possible that this test can only be used as a supplement. It is difficult to say anything about psychometric characteristics of this test because there are so many scoring systems. In general, the TAT has a low test-retest reliability (.28). In addition, client's answers are often interpreted intuitively and subjectively and this can quickly lead to over-diagnosis. The test has been extensively used for research purposes.

The Picture Projective Test (PPT) was an improvement on the TAT, because other images were used that are less obscure and depressing. The images used for this had to meet 4 criteria:

  • The image had to promise a meaningful projective material.

  • Most, but not all, images had to contain more than one human character.

  • Approximately half of the images had to show positive affective expressions in the persons depicted.

  • Approximately half of the images had to contain people who move and are not simply sitting or lying down.

It also appeared that the participants tell more positive stories at the PPT. In addition, the PPT puts more emphasis on interpersonal themes instead of intra-personal themes and therefore also more emphasis on healthy personality adjustment.

Compared with the TAT, the PPT was better at distinguishing between psychotic patients and normal / depressive participants. However, there must be more research into the psychometric qualities of this test.

For children there is the Children's Apperception Test (CAT). This test consists of 10 plates and is suitable for children between 3 and 10 years. The images are animals in a typical human setting (CAT-A). The idea behind this is that children can identify better with animals than with people. A version with people (CAT-H) is available for older children. There is no fixed way for scoring and there is no statistical information about validity and reliability. The diagnosis is made on the basis of 10 variables that are included in each story:

  1. Main theme

  2. Main hero

  3. Main needs and drives for hero

  4. Conception of environment

  5. Perception of parental, contemporary and junior figures

  6. Conflicts

  7. Anxieties

  8. Defenses

  9. Adequacy or superego

  10. Integration of ego.

Other variants of the TAT have also been developed for ethnic, race and language minorities. The T-TAT is suitable for African-Americans, but there were unintentional changes in facial expressions and situations that make it a new version of the TAT.

The TEMAS is intended for Spanish-American people and consists of 23 colorful images. The test contains 18 cognitive functions, 9 personality functions and 7 affective functions as a theme. Through this test you can also measure various objective indexes such as reaction time. The test does have inconsistent reliability and validity.

Expression techniques

In these tests, the participants are asked to make a drawing. At the DAP you are asked to draw a person. The interpretation is entirely intuitive by the examiner. Thereby, this test is poorly supported empirically. The House-Tree-Person test (HTP) asks the participant to draw a house, tree and person. When interpreting the drawings, the house must represent home life, the tree represents the experience of the environment and the person reflects the interpersonal relationships. However, it is an invalid measuring instrument. All in all, most clinicians no longer use the projective techniques as a stand-alone test, but as a supplement to the clinical interview.

Self-report and behavioral assessment of psychopathology

Previously the protective personality tests were discussed. Structural tests also exist. These tests have specific rules about taking, scoring, interpreting and describing the test and its results. These tests are also called objective, but you can only really speak of that after extensive research. There are three approaches for developing structured personality tests: theory-bounded, factor-analytic and criterion-key. A combination of these methods is often used.

Theory-guided inventories

These types of tests are developed around an existing theory.

Personality Research Form (PRF)

The PRF is based on Murray's theory on manifest need, the needs that a person wants to fulfill. Examples include autonomy, dominance, impulsivity and change. The PRF reflects 20 of this type of needs in 20 personality scales. Each scale has about 20 true-false items. There are multiple versions available with more or fewer items. The striking thing is that the different scales have little overlap. Nevertheless, the reliability and validity of this test is high.

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)

The STAI is a self-report for measuring anxiety. The purpose of the test is to distinguish between a temporary state of anxiety (state-anxiety) and a long-term, stable state of anxiety (trait-anxiety). The state-scale contains 20 items about how the participant feels now, at the moment. The characteristic scale contains 20 items about how the participant generally feels. The test-retest reliability is logically low for the state scale and high for the trait scale. Furthermore, other reliability, such as internal consistency, is also high. In addition, the content, convergent, discriminant and construct validity is also high. Therefore the STAI is a widely used tool in the clinical and research sector.

Factor-analytically derived inventories

Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ)

The EPQ was developed to measure the large dimensions of normal and abnormal personality dimensions. From the analysis three dimensions followed: Psychoticism (P), Extraversion (E), and Neuroticism (N). In addition, a Lie scale (L) was added for validity. A high score on the psychotic scale indicates aggressive and hostile characteristics, impulsiveness, a preference for unusual things and empathic limitations. Antisocial and schizoid patients often have a high score on this scale. A high score on the extraversion scale indicates loud, gregarious, outgoing, fun-loving core traits. A low score points to more introverted characteristics. The scale of neuroticism stands for the emotional dimensions ranging from nervous, poorly adjusted and over-emotional (high score) to stable and self-assured (low score).

There is also a Junior EPQ available for children aged 7 to 15 years. The reliability and validity of the EPQ are high. The EPQ is a very good tool for self-reporting.

Comrey Personality Scales

The CPS is a short self-report and is especially useful for students and other adults. The reliability is high. There is more disagreement about the validity. For example, cross-cultural validity is excellent and it is also an acceptable predictor for clinical purposes. But it lacks correlation with the biographical data.

The test consists of 8 scales with 20 items and 20 items for validity (first 2 scales):

  1. Validity check: test for contradictory answers.

  2. Response bias: test for the tendency to look good.

  3. Trust vs. defensiveness: high score indicates an honest and trustworthy person.

  4. Order vs. lack of compulsion: careful, orderly and organized.

  5. Social conformity vs. rebelliousness: keeping rules, accepting society.

  6. Activity vs. lack of energy: a lot of energy to work and perform hard.

  7. Extraversion vs. introversion: easy going, looking for new friends.

  8. Emotional stability vs. neuroticism: optimistic, confident and relaxed.

  9. Mental toughness vs. sensitivity: are tough and show little emotions.

  10. Empathy vs. egocentrism: helpful, generous and sympathetic.

Criterion-keyed inventories

With the criterion-keyed approach, test items are used only when they can distinguish a criterion group from a control group.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2)

The MMPI is a self-report that is useful in psychiatric research and normal personality research. In the first version, the control norm group was not well representative. In addition, the language use of some items was not objective and too directive. As last, the MMPI was not comprehensive enough.

That is why the MMPI-2 improved in many areas. The test consists of 567 true-false items that contain pathological themes. The test is standardized on standard groups of different mental patients. The MMPI-2 is scored on 4 validity scales, 10 standard clinical scales and many additional scales.

The first validity scale is the Cannot Say score. The score is the number of items that the participant has not checked, or double-checked. The second validity scale is the L scale. These are items that indicate an attitude that is almost never seen in our culture. They are items that everyone would fill in the same way (I never get angry, I love everyone). High scores on the F scale mean seriously unadapted behavior. It seems to show psychopathology, but even patients rarely score high. The K scale is used to discover subtle forms of defensibility. Combinations of F and K scale can be used to discover pretended diseases or fake profiles.

The MMPI-2 is always scored on its ten clinical scales, with possible interpretations.

  1. Hs. Hypochondriasis, bias about physical conditions.

  2. D. Depression, sad feelings and hopelessness.

  3. Hy. Hysteria, immaturity, use of repression or denial

  4. Pd. Psychopathic deviate, authority conflicts and impulsivity.

  5. Mf. Masculity-feminity, male / female interests.

  6. Pa. Paranoia, suspicion and confidence.

  7. Pt. Psychasthenia, fear and obsessive thoughts.

  8. Sc. Schizophrenia, Alienation, unusual thoughts.

  9. Ma. Hypomania, a lot of energy and possibly nervous tensions (agitation).

  10. Si. Social introversion, shyness and introversion

The MMPI-2 can be interpreted and scaled per scale by means of T-scores. In addition, there is a configurational method whereby code types are made of the scales. Two or more scales are above a certain criterion ('elevation') and two or more scales differ significantly from the others ('definition'). These scoring methods can also be done via computer programs.

The MMPI-2 has a nice reliability. Internal consistency coefficients are above .70 and test-retest tests above .50 and .90. A disadvantage, however, is that the inter-correlations of the scales are very high. The validity of the MMPI-2 is also good. The MMPI-2 will therefore remain a leading test instrument for many years.

There is also a computerized way of interpreting and the Minnesota Report is the best. This forms a 16-page long report on the validity of the profile, symptom patterns, interpersonal relationships, diagnostic considerations and considerations for treatment. It also contains multiple tables and figures to illustrate these results. It is basically a good program, but one has to take into account that it is made by people and that there can be errors. There can therefore be erroneous interpretations.

Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III (MCMI-III)

Like the MMPI-2, the MCMI-III is useful for psychiatric research, but the MCMI-III is shorter (175 items) and can also be used in combination with the DSM-IV. The test consists of 5 groups of scales:

  • Clinical personality patterns: 1. Schizoid, 2a. Avoidant, 2b. Depressive, 3. Dependent, 4. Histrionic, 5. Narcissistic, 6a. Antisocial, 6b. Aggressive / sadistic, 7. Compulsive, 8a. Passive-aggressive / negativistic, 8b. Self-defeating.

  • Severe personality pathology: S. Schizotypal, C. Borderline, P. Paranoid.

  • Clinical syndromes: A. Anxiety, H. Somatoform, N. Bipolar: manic, D. Dysthymia, B. Alcohol dependent, R. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Serious syndromes: SS. Thought disorder, CC. Major depression, PP. Delusional disorder.

  • Validity indexes: X. Disclosure, Y. Desirability, Z. Debasement.

The development of the scales was done on existing patient groups, so that the scales could distinguish different patients. The intercorrelations were, however, somewhat too high. It was also controversial that he only used patients as a standard group.

Personality Inventory for Children (PIC-2)

The PIC-2 is designed for children from 5 to 19 years old. The test consists of a part that is completed by the child (PIY) and a part that is filled in by the teacher (SBS). The PIC-2 has three validity scales: inconsistency, dissimulation (fake behavior) and resilience. In addition, the test has 9 adjustment scales with 2 or 3 subscales each:

  • Cognitive impairment: inadequate abilities, poor achievement, developmental delay.

  • Impulsivity and distractibility: disruptive behavior and fearlessness.

  • Delinquency: antisocial behavior, no control, disobedient.

  • Family dysfunction: quarrel with family members, unacceptable behavior towards parents.

  • Reality distortion: developmental deviation, hallucinations and delusions.

  • Somatic concern: psychosomatic bias, muscle tension and anxiety.

  • Psychological discomfort: fear and worry, depression, insomnia.

  • Social withdrawal: social introversion, isolation.

  • Social skills deficits: few friends, quarrel with peers.

The PIC-2 is scored via T-scores. The reliability is good with test-retest of .82 or higher and internal consistency of .81 or higher. The validity scores are also high. The PIC-2 is therefore a good instrument that can be used well for behavioral emotional research in children.

Behavioral assessment and research

Behavioral research concentrates on behavior itself and not on underlying characteristics, causes or dimensions of personality. It must be fast, direct and easy and correspond with the treatment. Various instruments are used, such as self-reporting, assessment of parents or (semi) structured interviews. In addition, a new form has become popular in recent years: ecological short-term research. Behavioral research can be part of behavioral therapy, where the goal is to change the duration, frequency or intensity of a certain behavior. The way of behavioral research is therefore often dependent on the goals and procedures of the therapy.

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy can be divided into four categories: exposure methods, cognitive behavioral therapy, self-control procedures and social skills training.


This method can be used to treat phobias. Here the patient is systematically exposed to the feared object or situation. This is done through desensitization. The patient learns to remain calm with the object, which happens in small steps and after learning relaxation techniques. Another way is flooding or implosion, where the patient is immediately exposed to the feared object.

The therapist first needs a behavioral assessment to treat a phobia. An example of this is the Behavorial Avoidance Test (BAT), in which the therapist measures how long the patient can tolerate the anxiety stimulus. Scores on this test are strongly related to self-reporting of catastrophic thoughts. That means that there is a cognitive component that plays a part. However, the situational context must always be taken into account.

In a fear survey schedule, participants must indicate the presence and intensity of their fears in relation to different stimuli. However, the validity is not good, so these types of instruments must be used with caution.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

The goal of cognitive behavioral therapies is to change the belief structure of the client. One of these types of therapies is Ellis' rational emotive therapy (RET). Distorted behavior is caused by irrational beliefs, which must be changed by logical arguments and incentives. Second is Meichenbaums self-instruction training. In doing so, the patient is taught to learn coping skills for stressful situations. The third is Beck's cognitive therapy, which is mainly focused on depression. Here the pessimistic cognitive structures of the view of the world, the self-concept and the future are re-structured.

The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is a self-report questionnaire that measures many cognitive components of depression. It is a simple and quick to fill in questionnaire, because it consists of only 21 items. The reliability of the test is very good. Only the test-retest results were disappointing in healthy participants, but that is not unexpected, because feelings of depression change a lot in a short time. The validity of the BDI is also very good. The test can therefore be used well in behavioral research and for other clinical settings. The only drawback is that the BDI is too transparent, so that the answers are easy to fake.

Self-Monitoring Procedures

During self-monitoring, the patient is expected to choose his own goals and actively participate in leading, mapping and recording progress towards the final goal of the therapy. The therapist acts as a consultant. It is especially useful in the treatment of depression. Thus Lewinsohn discovered that depression is accompanied by a reduced experience of pleasant events. To counter this, he designed the Pleasant Events Schedule (PES). The first goal of this instrument is to draw up a baseline of pleasant, everyday events. The second goal is to measure progress during therapy. The more frequent the pleasant events, the better the symptoms. The PES is therefore a useful tool for self-control against depression.

Structured interviews

Structured interviews are often based on DSM-IV. This consists of five axes. Axis I includes clinical disorders. Axis II includes personality disorders. Axis III includes general medical conditions. Axis IV includes psychosocial and environmental problems. Axis V includes the 'Assessment of Function', a scale from 1-100 to identify everyday functioning. Problems with the DSM-IV are that taking a diagnosis takes a long time, a fixed method is lacking, and the reliability is changeable.

Semi-structured and structured interviews have been developed for this. The Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (SADS) is a semi-structured diagnostic interview for Axis I disorders. It consists of standard questions and additional questions that can be used to get something clearer. The reliability and validity of the SADS are good.

In addition, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) for the DSM-IV is also available. This is also a semi-structured interview that also contains questions for Axis II of the DSM-IV.

Assessment by systematic direct observation

Observation methods are mainly used in children. The goal is to measure specific behaviors. These have been determined in advance. The observations are done under objective standardized procedures. That is why the time and place are well specified. Finally, the scoring is standardized and is therefore no different for other observers.

One of the ways is simply to count the frequency of the behavior. Another way is to record the duration of the behaviors. A goal of intervention can be to reduce both the frequency and the duration of behaviors. This is also available for specified schedules that save time and effort. An example is the Behavior Observation of Students in Schools (BOSS).

It is important to remember that problems may arise in direct observation. Observer drift is the problem that the observer becomes less vigilant after a while and therefore fails to notice behaviors. Another problem is coding complexity. This happens when too many behaviors have to be observed, or when the behaviors are poorly defined. You also have to take into account the moment you observe. Problems may or may not be present at different times of the day. So you cannot always start from a single observation.

Analogue behavioral assessment

In direct observation, the child is examined in his natural setting, such as a classroom. With analogue behavioral assessment, the children are observed in a standardized environment, but in a way that the child feels at ease. The child performs relevant tasks for the observed behaviors. For example, a child has to do homework in a room that is furnished as a classroom, while the observer observes the child through a mirror window. Analogue behavioral assessment can also be used for parent-child interactions. For adults, the Rapid Couples Interaction Scoring System (RCISS) is used in marriage therapy or other therapies.

Ecological momentary assessment

Patients get a device with them and they have to fill in a very short list at random moments of the day. The answers are immediately forwarded to a central computer. It is a more accurate and reliable way to examine the patient's experience. It can provide insights that are much more difficult to obtain with normal research.

Developmental Psychology - Storch & Whitehurst - 2002 - Artikel

Developmental Psychology - Storch & Whitehurst - 2002 - Artikel


De auteurs definiëren ontluikende geletterdheid als volgt: het geheel van vaardigheden, kennis en attitudes die voorbodes zijn van de ontwikkeling van lezen en schrijven, alsmede de omgeving die deze ontwikkelingen ondersteunen.

De term ‘ontluikend’ houdt in dat er een continuüm bestaat tussen de periode voor het lezen en het ‘echte’ lezen. Er zijn twee soorten vaardigheden voor het ontluiken van de geletterdheid van belang: De code-related skills en de oral language skills.

Code related skills (verder: normgerelateerde vaardigheden) zijn de kennis over conventies van de geschreven taal (bijvoorbeeld: schrijven van links naar rechts), beginnende vormen van schrijven (bijvoorbeeld: naam schrijven), kennis van grafeem-foneem connecties en fonologisch bewustzijn.

Oral language skills (verder: taalvaardigheden) bestaat uit kennis van leesvaardigheden, zoals semantiek, syntaxis en conceptuele kennis.

Om de functies van deze vaardigheden te begrijpen is het belangrijk om te weten hoe de ontwikkeling van het lezen gaat. Lezen bestaat uit vele vaardigheden, zoals onder andere het herkennen van letters, het omzetten van letters in geluiden, het kennen van de betekenis van woorden. Deze vaardigheden spelen samen bij het lezen, dit gaat echter niet vanzelf.

Onderzoek heeft uitgewezen dat vooral kennis over geschreven taal en fonologisch bewustzijn een kritieke rol spelen. Daarbij wordt algemeen aangenomen dat vroege moeilijkheden in oral language skills een voorbode zijn voor leesproblemen op latere leeftijd. De literatuur laat geen duidelijke correlaties zien tussen deze taalvaardigheden en lezen. De ene studie laat kleine verbanden zien, anderen vinden geen verbanden meer, wanneer er gecontroleerd wordt voor IQ en Sociaal Economische Status (verder: SES). Aan de andere kant zijn er onderzoeken die uitwezen dat er andere vaardigheden zijn die van invloed zijn op de correlatie. Een voorbeeld van zo’n onderzoek is van Catts and all (1991). Zij vonden dat mondelinge taalvaardigheid bij kleuters gedeeltelijk onafhankelijk zijn van fonologische vaardigheden, en dat beide sets vaardigheden belangrijke onafhankelijke voorspellers van woordherkenning zijn. Zij stellen dat fonologische vaardigheden als mediator zijn tussen taalvaardigheden en leesprestatie. Wanneer kinderen een voortgang laten zien in de poging eenheden van de tekst te begrijpen die groter zijn dan afzonderlijke woorden, wordt mondelinge taalvaardigheid, met name semantische kennis, steeds belangrijker.

Door deze bevindingen blijft de relatie tussen normgerelateerde vaardigheden en mondelinge taalvaardigheden onderdeel van debat. Er zijn verschillende redenen waardoor dat zo is. Ten eerste hebben studies zich gefocust op weinig vaardigheden in een keer, waardoor er geen twee studies hetzelfde gemeten hebben. Hierdoor is vergelijk van resultaten onmogelijk.

Daarnaast is er een probleem met de opzet van deze correlatiestudies.

Doordat de studies onderzoek doen in de vorm van of een follow-up studie van kinderen met een vroege leesachterstand of in de vorm van een retrospectieve studie over kinderen met leesproblemen, is er geen rekening gehouden met de nonverbale vaardigheden van kinderen. Hierdoor waren de kinderen in de onderzoeksgroep vaak kinderen met algemene leerachterstanden. Leesproblemen waren slechts een symptoom van meer onderliggende problematiek.

Verder is het heel lastig om leesproblemen te definiëren. Omdat er zoveel aspecten verantwoordelijk zijn voor het goed lezen van kinderen, zijn er net zoveel aspecten waarin het leesprobleem kan zitten. Er zijn verschillende oorzaken en verschillende combinaties van problemen mogelijk.

Als laatste is er een schaarste aan longitudinale studies die verbanden proberen te leggen tussen de normgerelateerde vaardigheden en de taalvaardigheden. De auteurs wilden in deze studie een meer samenhangende en empirisch krachtiger onderzoek naar de rol van normgerelateerde en taalvaardigheden voorlopers in de ontwikkeling van leesvaardigheid dan tot nu toe door studies is gemeld.

Om deze studie goed te kunnen lezen en interpreteren is het belangrijk dat de volgende drie zaken in de gaten worden gehouden.

Ten eerste het onderscheid tussen normgerelateerde vaardigheden en mondelinge taalvaardigheden van belang. Fonologisch bewustzijn is ondergebracht bij de normgerelateerde vaardigheden, om twee redenen. De eerste reden is dat  mondelinge taalvaardigheid statistisch te onderscheiden is van fonologisch bewustzijn, het tweede is dat er gesteld is dat mondelinge taalvaardigheid geen direct effect heeft op leesprestaties, zoals fonologisch bewustzijn dat wel heeft.

Ten tweede zijn normgerelateerde vaardigheden en mondelinge taalvaardigheid gemodelleerd als zijnde verbonden tijdens de voorschoolse- en kleuterschoolse periodes als een continuüm, zoals in voorgaande is uitgelegd.

Als laatste is de hypothese dat leesprestatie in het begin van de lagere school klassen het beste kunnen worden opgevat als een factor waarin zowel de nauwkeurigheid en het begrijpend lezen worden geteld, terwijl in latere basisschoolklassen we het lezen van opvatten als bestaande uit twee verschillende factoren.


De steekproef bestond uit 626 vier-jarigen die aanwezig waren in een van de acht klaslokalen van geselecteerde scholen. Deze kinderen behoorden tot een van de drie cohorten 1991-1992, 1992-1993 of 1993-1994, en de geboortedata van de kinderen maakten dat ze in aanmerking kwamen om in te schrijven voor de openbare kleuterschool de volgende jaar.

De kinderen zijn zes keer getest op normgerelateerde vaardigheden en mondelinge taalvaardigheden door gestandaardiseerde meetinstrumenten.


Belangrijke bevindingen uit dit onderzoek waren de volgende:

  1. Ten eerste de relatie tussen gesproken taal en normgerelateerde vaardigheden was heel sterk in de voorschoolse jaren, maar het verzwakt na verloop van tijd.
  2. Ten tweede was er longitudinale continuïteit binnen zowel de domeinen mondelinge taal- als normgerelateerde vaardigheden.
  3. Ten derde, mondelinge leesvaardigheid in het begin van de lagere school, gemeten met behulp van taken die zowel vaardigheden in de leesnauwkeurigheid en het begrijpend lezen maten, was direct gerelateerd aan een kind zijn normgerelateerde vaardigheden op de kleuterschool.
  4. Ten vierde was het vermogen tot begrijpend lezen van een kind van groep 3 of vier van de basisschool bepaald aan de hand van drie factoren: een kind zijn leesvaardigheid voordat hij scholing kreeg van de basisschool, taalvaardigheid en leesnauwkeurigheid.


Het door de auteurs opgestelde model  aan de hand van de bevindingen tijdens de studie bied perspectief voor het begrijpen en verklaren van de normgerelateerde vaardigheid en mondelinge taalvaardigheid op leesprestatie (figuur 2, p.942).

De relatie tussen beide vaardigheden op de kleuterschool is heel sterk, bijna op te vatten als een factor, terwijl de relatie steeds verminderd, totdat er bijna geen sprake meer is van een correlatie.

Door deze resultaten is extra bewijs voor de uitkomst van vorige onderzoeken: leesnauwkeurigheid en begrijpend lezen blijken nauw met elkaar verweven te zijn, en de relatie tussen woordherkenning en begrijpend lezen is sterk.

Bij oudere kinderen zijn er discrepanties tussen het vermogen tot decoderen en begripsvermogen. Er mag dus worden aangenomen dat ondanks grote overlap en verwantschap tussen deze begrippen, ze duidelijk onderscheiden moeten worden.

Volgens het model van de auteurs, wordt leesnauwkeurigheid sterk beïnvloed door het eerdere  woordherkenning en decodeervaardigheden. Aan de andere kant wordt leesbegrip bepaald door meerdere bronnen: voor leesvaardigheid, nauwkeurigheid en taalvaardigheid. Het model laat daarnaast zien dat normgerelateerde vaardigheden een mediator zijn tussen mondelinge taalvaardigheid en leesvaardigheid. Dit houdt in dat de normgerelateerde vaardigheden een essentiële, indirecte rol spelen in de taalontwikkeling van kinderen.

Al met al laten de bevindingen uit het model zien dat beide soorten vaardigheden, mondelinge taalvaardigheid en normgerelateerde vaardigheden, een verschillende, maar toch allebei belangrijke, rol spelen in de taalontwikkeling. Deze vaardigheden worden al voorbereid in de voorschoolse periode in het leven van een kind, dus voorschoolse stimulering in de omgeving waar het kind in opgroeit is erg belangrijk, volgens de auteurs.

Ook resultaten van onderzoek naar kinderen met een vroege taalproblemen

sluiten goed aan bij de bevindingen van deze studie. Bijvoorbeeld, recente follow-up studies van kinderen met een voorschoolse geschiedenis van een taalachterstand blijkt dat de aard van hun leesproblemen na verloop van tijd veranderd en problemen bij zowel het decoderen als taalbegrip omvat.

Beperkingen van het onderzoek zitten hem in het meten van de verschillende vaardigheden. Niet alle competenties die verbonden zijn met de vaardigheden zijn gemeten.

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