Spanish-Language Assessment Methods

Vladimir Roussalov. The International Handbook of Psychology. Editor: Kurt Pawlik & Mark R Rosenzweig. Sage Publications. 2000.

Psychological assessment is devoted to the process of examination and scientific analysis of the behaviors and other psychological characteristics of a specific human subject or group of subjects, with the aim of describing, diagnosing, predicting, or changing relevant behaviors. In order to test assumptions about a subject’ target behaviors—during this process—psychological testing and other measurement devices should be administered.

Therefore, tests and other measurement devices should be understood and undertaken in the context of the assessment process.

Psychological assessment (psychological testing included) is an ever-present subdiscipline of scientific psychology in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, as can be seen by considering four different types of information. First, university undergraduate programs include mandatory psychological assessment and testing courses (Blanco & Botella, 1995; Fernández-Ballesteros, 1991, 1992). Second, studies of psychologists’ profiles (a survey with representative sample) show that approximately 50% of tasks conducted by Spanish psychologists concern psychological assessment and testing in applied fields such as clinical and health psychology (e.g., ‘conducting interviews for clinical diagnosis’), school and educational psychology (e.g., ‘individual or collective testing’); work and organizational psychology (e.g., ‘administration of assessment tests’), forensic psychology (e.g., ‘general diagnosis through interviews and psychological tests’); and traffic, correctional, and military psychology (e.g., ‘administering psychological tests’). Third, the existence of several associations (e.g., Sociedad Iberoamericana de Diagnóstico y Evaluation Psicológica [Ibero-American Society of Psychological Diagnosis and Assessment]), the organization of national and international congresses and the publication of journals (e.g., Evaluation Psicológica or Revista Iberoamericana de Diagnóstico y Evaluation Psicológica [Ibero-American Journal of Psychological Diagnosis and Assessment]) show the importance of psychological assessment in Spanish-speaking countries. Finally, APA test-development norms have been translated and adopted in Spain and the majority of Central and South American countries.

This section deals with several issues related to assessment methodology in the Spanish language. First of all, a brief history will be presented, followed by an outline of the role of methodology in the assessment process. Also, the most important tests, techniques, and other measurement devices will be listed, and some of them described, along with a description of tests developed in English and translated into Spanish. Finally, the use of psychological tests in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America will be discussed.

Brief History of Assessment Methodology

As Carpintero (1989) pointed out, the development of psychological assessment can be traced back to the Renaissance; a Spaniard, Juan Huarte de San Juan (1575), with his book Examen de los Ingenios para las Ciencias (The Tryal of Wits), is a well-known precursor of psychological assessment (McReynolds, 1968). However, it is at the beginning of the twentieth century that we find the first works devoted to psychological methodology, with Madrid and Barcelona the leading centers of work in psychological assessment. From this point on, Spanish psychologists began to translate well-known tests, as well as developing some of their own. For example, at the end of the 1920s Germain and Rodrigo translated and adapted Terman’ version of the Binet Intelligence Test, and during the 1940s Emilio Mira y Lopez (1949) developed the Myo-Kinetic Test for assessing personality through psycho-motor performance (see Buros, 1965). Moreover, there even took place several congresses on psychometrics. As a consequence of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), however, a period of stagnation set in until the 1960s, from which point psychological assessment began to make great strides in its development throughout Spain.

Methodology in the Context of the Assessment Process

In the North-American tradition, psychological assessment has usually been confused with psychological testing, and therefore with assessment methodology. Nevertheless, as pointed out elsewhere, while testing and methods are primarily measurement-oriented, psychological assessment is problem- or demand-oriented and, above all, methodology refers to tests and other measurement techniques, while psychological assessment refers to a complex process of decision-making in which the psychological assessor should test information about the subject, as well as testing hypotheses about target behavior with a view to satisfying a given demand, and finally testing whether a given treatment has had the expected outcome (Fernández-Ballesteros, 1997). In short, assessment methodology is the way the psychological assessor operation-alizes and tests his/her hypothesis about the subject (or group of subjects). In general, this position has been assimilated into the psychological culture in Spanish-speaking psychological assessment.

Table 20.2 Tests and other assessment methodologies translated and adapted into Spanish

Name of test Author
Intelligence and Aptitudes
Alexander Scale W. P. Alexander
APT, Academic Promise Tests M. G. Bennett, G. K. Bennett, & D. M. Clendenen et al.
Beta, Revised Beta Examination C.-E. Kellog & N. W. Morton
Cognitive Ability Tests, Primary I & II R. C. Throndike, E. Hagen, & I. Lorge
DAT, Differential Aptitudes Tests M. G. Bennett, H. G. Seashore, & A. G. Wesman
D-48, Dominoes Test P. Pichot
D-70, Dominoes Test F. Kowrousky & P. Rennes
GCT, General Clerical Test The Psychological Corporation Staff
G-factor Culture Fair Intelligence Tests 1/2/3 R. B. Cattell & A. K. S. Cattell
GMA, Graduate & Managerial Assessment S. F. Blinkhorn
K-ABC, Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children A. S. Kaufman & N. L. Kaufman
K-BIT, Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test A. S. Kaufman & N. L. Kaufman
MacQuarrie for Mechanical Ability T. W. MacQuarrie
Otis Self-Administering Test of Mental Ability A. S. Otis
Progressive Matrices Tests (CPM, SPM, APM) J. C. Raven
Primary Mental Aptitudes (PMA) L. L. Thurstone
Seashore Measures of Musical Talents C.E. Seashore, J. C. Saetvit, & D. Lewis
SET, Short Employment Test G.K. Bennet & M. Gelink
TEA, SRA Test of Educational Ability L. L. Thurstone & Th. G. Thurstone
Toni-2, Test of Non-verbal Intelligence L. Brown, J. Sherbenou, & S. K. Johnsen
TP, Toulouse-Piéron E. Toulouse & H. Piéron
WAIS-III, WISC-R, WPPSI, Intelligence Scales D. Wechsler
Developmental Tests
Batelle, Development Inventory J. Newborg et al.
BSID, Bayley Scales of Infant Development N. Bayley
MSCA, McCarthy Scales for Children Abilities D. McCarthy
Personality Tests5
ACS, Adolescent Coping Scales E. Frydenberg & R. Lewis
Embedded Figure Tests (EFT, CEFT, PEFT) H. A. Witkin & P. K. Oltman
BFQ, Big-Five Questionnaire G. V. Caprara et al.
CAQ, Clinical Assessment Questionnaire S. E. Krug
CAS, Child Anxiety Scale J. S. Gillis
CDS, Child Depression Scale M. Lang & M. Tisher
CPI, California Personality Inventory H. G. Gough
CPQ, Child Personality Questionnaire R. B. Porter & R. B. Cattell
EDI-2, Eating Disorders Inventory D. M. Garner
EPI, EPQ, EPQ-R, Personality Questionnaires H. J. Eysenck & S. B. G. Eysenck
ESPQ, Early School Personality Questionnaire R. W. Coan & R. B. Cattell
FTT, Fairy Tales Test C. Coulacoglou
HSPQ, High School Personality Questionnaire R. B. Cattell, H. Beloff & R. W. Coan
IAS, Interpersonal Adjectives Scales J. S. Wiggins
IPV, Salesmen Personality Inventory Centre de Psychologie Appliqueé
JAS, Jenkins Activity Scale C. D. Jenkins, S. J. Zyzanski, & R. H. Rosenman
MBTI, Myers—Briggs Typological Inventory I. Briggs-Myers & K. C. Briggs
MBI, Maslach Burnout Inventory C. Maslach & S. E. Jackson
MCMI-II, Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory Th. Millon
MMPI & MMPI-2, Multiphasic Personality Inventory S. R. Hathaway & J. C. McKinley
PNP Questionnaire P. Pichot
PPG-IPG, SIV, SPV, Personality and Values L. V. Gordon
STAI, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory C. D. Spielberger
STAIC, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children C. D. Spielberger
16-PF, 16PF-5 Personality Questionnaires R. B. Cattell
Interest, Preferences and Attitude Tests
Kuder-C Vocational Preferences Tests J. F. Kuder
Manual & Motor Dexterity Tests
Bennet Hand-Tool Dexterity Test G. K. Bennett
Crawford Small Parts Dexterity Test J. E. & D. M. Crawford
Stromberg Dexterity Test E. L. Stromberg
Neuropsychological Tests
Aphasia Test Examination B. Ducame de Ribaucourt
Bender Gestalt Test L. Bender
CAPE, Clifton Assessment Procedure for Elderly A.H. Pattie & C. J. Gilleard
CMMS, Columbia Mental Maturity Scales B.B. Burgemeister, L. H. Blum, & I. Lorge
ITPA, Illinois Test Psycholinguistic Abilities S. A. Kirk, J. McCarthy, & W. D. Kirk
Luria—Christensen Neuropsychological Tests A.L. Christensen
RBMT, Rivermead Behavioral Memory Test B. Wilson, J. Cockburn, & A. Baddley
Rey Copy & Reproduction of Memory A. Rey
Stroop Color & Word Test C.J. Golden
TRVB, Benton Visual Retention Test A. L. Benton
VOSP, Visual Object % Space Perception E. K. Warrington & James
WCST, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test D.A. Grant & E. A. Berg
Environmental Tests
FES, WES, CIES, CES, Social Climate Scales (Family, Work, Correctional Instititions, & Classroom) R. H. Moos

Tests, Techniques, and other Measurement Devices in Spanish

We consider two types of tests, assessment techniques and other measurement devices in Spanish:

  • Tests mostly used in the United States that have been translated and adapted to the Spanish context and are available in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. In Table 20.2, the most well-known tests already translated are listed.
  • Spaniards have also developed new tests. These tests belong to the largest domain of psychological techniques. Table 20.3 lists these tests and other methodologies in the following categories: intelligence; aptitudes (verbal, numerical, spatial and motor skills, perceptual and attentional skills); learning and memory; developmental tests; personnel selection tests; personality questionnaires; interests, preferences, attitudes and motivational tests; neuropsychological batteries; achievement tests, environmental assessment systems; observational procedures; and miscellaneous.

Unfortunately, lack of space precludes discussion or even description of these instruments. Nevertheless, the two tables can be considered as proof of the importance of psychological assessment methodology in the Spanish language.

The Use of Tests in Spanish-Speaking Countries

On two occasions (1978 and 1987; see Fernández-Ballesteros, 1992), surveys were carried out on Spanish psychologists in order to find out the details of their technological practices in Psychological Assessment. On both occasions the number of responses obtained was low (in 1978, out of 965 psychologists to whom questionnaires were sent, only 68 answered; in the 1987 survey, which was published in the journal Papeles del Psicologo, 128 replied). Therefore, the data that follow, taken from the 1987 survey, cannot be claimed to be representative, but rather merely illustrative of some aspects of the work of Spanish psychologists using Psychological Assessment.

Regarding the tests most frequently used by those who answered the survey, 83% said that they used some of the Wechsler Scales of Intelligence, and 90% used some of the factorial tests (mainly Raven’ Progressive Matrices and Thurstone’ PMA); 83% also reported using Cattell’ 16 PF, and only 50% Hathaway and McKinley’ MMPI; 48% reported occasional use of Murray’ TAT, while only 26% used the Psychodiagnostic Rorschach; finally, 50% of those surveyed indicated that they used clinical behaviorist tests (the most frequently cited being Beck’ Depression Scale and Wolpe’ FSS).

The above-mentioned survey also took account of the opinions of the participating psychologists regarding their expectation about the future of assessment methodology. The general opinion was that behavioral tests would be those most frequently used in the future. They also expected a certain amount of stabilization to occur in the format of intelligence and personality tests, and they believed there would be a decrease in the use of projective technology.

Recently, under the auspices of the International Test Commission (ITC) and the European Federation of Professional Psychologists Associations (EFPPA), a survey on the use of tests in several countries around the world has been carried out. The results from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America have recently been published by Prieto, Muniz, Almeida, & Bartram (1999). Questionnaires were sent to 41 experts selected from Spain and Portugal, as well as 19 experts from Latin-American countries. Nineteen responses were received from 14 countries. Reported results showed that the use of tests is not as frequent and appropriate as it could be. Experts reported the need for the involvement of national professional psychological associations and universities to improve the use of testing. The five most frequently used tests are the following: Wechsler Intelligence Scales (WAIS and WISC), MMPI, Rorschach Test, Raven’ Progressive Matrices Test, 16 PF. This ranking is quite similar to the above-mentioned one, and is also similar to those found in English-speaking countries.

It can be concluded that there is a wide spectrum of tests and other assessment methodologies in the Spanish language that cover all psychological content; nevertheless, and despite the existence of tests constructed in Spanish, Spanish-speaking psychologists generally use tests developed in the United States.