Influence Of The Subject's Attitude





One continually meets such queries as, "How do you know the subject did his best?"

"Possibly the child was nervous or frightened," or, "Perhaps incorrect answers were

purposely given." All such objections may be disposed of by saying that the

competent examiner can easily control the experiment in such a way that

embarrassment is soon replaced by self-confidence, and in such a way

that effort is kept at its maximum. As for mischievous deception, it

would be a poor clinicist who could not recognize and deal with the

little that is likely to arise.



Cautions regarding embarrassment, fatigue, fright, illness, etc. are

given in Chapter IX. Most of the errors which have been reported along

this line are such as can nearly always be avoided by ordinary prudence,

coupled with a little power of observation.[38] We must not charge the

mistakes of untrained and indiscreet examiners against the validity of

the method itself.



[38] See, for example, the rather ludicrous "errors" of the Binet method

reported in _The Psychological Clinic_ for 1915, pp. 140 _ff._ and

167 _ff._



It is possibly true that even if the examiner is tactful and prudent an

unfavorable attitude on the part of the subject may occasionally affect

the results of a test to some extent, but it ought not seriously to

invalidate one examination out of five hundred. The greatest danger is

in the case of a young subject who has been recently arrested and

brought before a court. Even here a little common sense and scientific

insight should enable one to guard against a mistaken diagnosis.





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