Ecological variables and examiner biases in assessing handicapped preschool children

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4 Scopus citations


A number of modifications were made of the clinical assessment situation for 200 developmentally handicapped preschool children. These included altering the waiting-room environment by presence or absence of toys, the examination sequence so that developmental assessments preceded or followed physical examinations, the familiarity or unfamiliarity of the examiner, the examiner's familiarity or unfamiliarity with the child's clinical record, and the examiner's recent experience testing normal children. The children's developmental assessment performance and test-taking behaviors were positively affected by the presence of toys in the waiting room and by being given the developmental prior to the physical assessment. Having an examiner familiar with the child or the child's record tended to deflate scores, suggesting that the familiar examiner may have had lesser expectations of the child which, in turn, may have limited attempts at eliciting optimal performance of the child. Examiners who had recent experience in testing normal children systematically assigned lower scores to the handicapped children suggesting that examiners without recent experience in testing normal children may have been assessing handicapped children with a handicapped, rather than a normal distribution as a frame of reference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-163
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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