Presence Of Others

A still more disturbing influence is the presence of

other persons. Generally speaking, if accurate results are to be secured

it is not permissible to have any auditor, besides possibly an

assistant to record the responses. Even the assistant, however quiet and

unobtrusive, is sometimes a disturbing element. Though something of a

convenience, the assistant is by no means necessary, after the examiner

has thoroughly mas
ered the procedure of the tests and has acquired some

skill in the use of abbreviations in recording the answers. If an

assistant or any other person is present, he should be seated somewhat

behind the child, not too close, and should take no notice of the child

either when he enters the room or at any time during the examination.

At all events, the presence of parent, teacher, school principal, or

governess is to be avoided. Contrary to what one might expect, these

distract the child much more than a strange personality would do. Their

critical attitude toward the child's performance is very likely to cause

embarrassment. If the child is alone with the examiner, he is more at

ease from the mere fact that he does not feel that there is a reputation

to sustain. The praise so lavishly bestowed upon him by the friendly and

sympathetic examiner lends to the same effect.

As Binet emphasizes, if the presence of others cannot be avoided, it

is at least necessary to require of them absolute silence. Parents,

and sometimes teachers, have an almost irrepressible tendency to

interrupt the examination with excuses for the child's failures and

with disturbing explanations which are likely to aid the child in

comprehending the required task. Without the least intention of doing

so, they sometimes practically tell the child how to respond. Parents,

especially, cannot refrain from scolding the child or showing impatience

when his answers do not come up to expectation. This, of course,

endangers the child's success still further.

The psychologist is not surprised at such conduct. It would be foolish

to expect average parents, even apart from their bias in the particular

case at hand, to adopt the scientific attitude of the trained examiner.

Since we cannot in a few moments at our disposal make them over into

psychologists, our only recourse is to deal with them by exclusion.

This is not to say that it is impossible to test a child satisfactorily

in the presence of others. If the examiner is experienced, and if the

child is not timid, it is sometimes possible to make a successful test

in the presence of quite a number of auditors, provided they remain

silent, refrain from staring, and otherwise conduct themselves with

discretion. But not even the veteran examiner can always be sure of the

outcome in demonstration testing.