Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Validity, Interrater Reliability, and Measures of Adaptive Behavior: Concerns Regarding the Probative Versus Prejudicial Value

Validity, Interrater Reliability, and Measures of Adaptive Behavior: Concerns Regarding the Probative Versus Prejudicial Value

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. Article link.

Karen L. Salekin,The University of Alabama
Tess M. S. Neal,Arizona State University
Krystal A. Hedge, Federal Medical Center, Devens, Massachusetts

The question as to whether the assessment of adaptive behavior (AB) for evaluations of intellectual disability (ID) in the community meet the level of rigor necessary for admissibility in legal cases is addressed. AB measures have made their way into the forensic domain, in which scientific evidence is put under great scrutiny. Assessment of ID in capital murder proceedings has garnished a lot of attention, but assessments of ID in adult populations also occur with some frequency in the context of other criminal proceedings (e.g., competence to stand trial, competence to waive Miranda rights), as well as eligibility for social security disability, social security insurance, Medicaid/Medicare, government housing, and postsecondary transition services. As will be demonstrated, markedly disparate findings between raters can occur on measures of AB even when the assessment is conducted in accordance with standard procedures (i.e., the person was assessed in a community setting, in real time, with multiple appropriate raters, when the person was younger than 18 years of age), and similar disparities can be found in the context of the unorthodox and untested retrospective assessment used in capital proceedings. With full recognition that some level of disparity is to be expected, the level of disparity that can arise when these measures are administered retrospectively calls into question the validity of the results and, consequently, their probative value.

Keywords: adaptive behavior measures, Atkins, forensic evaluations, validity, interrater reliability

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Five Factor Model personality disorder scales: An introduction to a special section on assessment of maladaptive variants of the five factor model.

Five Factor Model personality disorder scales: An introduction to a special section on assessment of maladaptive variants of the five factor model.
// Psychological Assessment - Vol 22, Iss 2

The Five-Factor Model (FFM) is a dimensional model of general personality structure, consisting of the domains of neuroticism (or emotional instability), extraversion versus introversion, openness (or unconventionality), agreeableness versus antagonism, and conscientiousness (or constraint). The FFM is arguably the most commonly researched dimensional model of general personality structure. However, a notable limitation of existing measures of the FFM has been a lack of coverage of its maladaptive variants. A series of self-report inventories has been developed to assess for the maladaptive personality traits that define Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition; DSM–5) Section II personality disorders (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013) from the perspective of the FFM. In this paper, we provide an introduction to this Special Section, presenting the rationale and empirical support for these measures and placing them in the historical context of the recent revision to the APA diagnostic manual. This introduction is followed by 5 papers that provide further empirical support for these measures and address current issues within the personality assessment literature. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Research Byte: False Confessions: How Can Psychology So Basic Be So Counterintuitive?

False Confessions: How Can Psychology So Basic Be So Counterintuitive?

American Psychologist © 2017 American Psychological Association 2017, Vol. 72, No. 9, 951–964 0003-066X/17/$12.00 Article link.

Saul M. Kassin John Jay College of Criminal Justice of CUNY

Recent advances in DNA technology have shined a spotlight on thousands of innocent people wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit—many of whom had been induced to confess. The scientific study of false confessions, which helps to explain this phenomenon, has proved highly paradoxical. On the one hand, it is rooted in reliable core principles of psychology (e.g., research on reinforcement and decision-making, obedi-ence to authority, and confirmation biases). On the other hand, false confessions are highly counterintuitive if not inconceivable to most people (e.g., as seen in actual trial outcomes as well as studies of jury decision making). This article describes both the psychology underlying false confessions and the psychology that predicts the counter-intuitive nature of this same phenomenon. It then notes that precisely because they are so counterintuitive, false confessions are often “invisible,” resulting in a form of inatten-tional blindness, and are slow to change in the face of contradiction, illustrating belief perseverance. This article concludes by suggesting ways in which psychologists can help to prevent future miscarriages of justice by advocating for reforms to policy and practice and helping to raise public awareness.

Keywords: interrogation, false confessions, confirmation bias, social influence, wrongful convictions

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Atkins court decision: Farad Roland v USA (NJ; 2018)

Today the opinion regarding the Atkins ID decision for Farad Roland was issued.  As per my policy, having served as an expert witness in this particular case, I offer no comments.  The opinion can be found here.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Does the rot start at the top? New different Flynn effect research

Does the rot start at the top?

From Twitter, a Flipboard magazine by James Thompson

As readers of this blog will know, it is usually Woodley of Menie who darkens these pages with talk of genetic ruin, while James Flynn is the plucky New Zealander…

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Research review of efficacy of effort testing with culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse populations

Cross-Cultural Feigning Assessment: A Systematic Review of Feigning Instruments Used With Linguistically, Ethnically, and Culturally Diverse Samples

Alicia Nijdam-Jones and Barry Rosenfeld Fordham University

The cross-cultural validity of feigning instruments and cut-scores is a critical concern for forensic mental health clinicians. This systematic review evaluated feigning classification accuracy and effect sizes across instruments and languages by summarizing 45 published peer-reviewed articles and unpublished doctoral dissertations conducted in Europe, Asia, and North America using linguistically, ethnically, and culturally diverse samples. The most common psychiatric symptom measures used with linguistically, ethnically, and culturally diverse samples included the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptom-atology, the Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test, and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The most frequently studied cognitive effort measures included the Word Recogni-tion Test, the Test of Memory Malingering, and the Rey 15-item Memory test. The classification accuracy of these measures is compared and the implications of this research literature are discussed.

Public Significance Statement This study suggests that there is only a modest amount of research examining the use of feigning assessment measures with linguistically, ethnically, and culturally diverse populations. As psychol-ogists in the United States and other Western, English-speaking countries assess individuals from diverse linguistic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, it is important that the assessment techniques that they rely on have demonstrated utility in non-English cultures and languages.

Lick on image to enlarge. Article link.

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Research Byte: The Role of Visuospatial Ability in the Raven's Progressive Matrices

File under Gf and Gv as per CHC theory.

The Role of Visuospatial Ability in the Raven's Progressive Matrices

Nicolette A. Waschl, Ted Nettelbeck, and Nicholas R. Burns

School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, SA, Australia


Debate surrounding the role of visuospatial ability in performance on the Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) has existed since their conception. This issue has yet to be adequately resolved, and may have implications regarding sex differences in scores. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the relationship between RPM performance, visuospatial ability and fluid ability, and any sex differences in these relationships. Data were obtained from three samples: two University samples completed the Advanced RPM and one population-based sample of men completed the Standard RPM. All samples additionally completed an alternative measure of fluid ability, and one or more measures of visuospatial ability. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationships between performance on the visuospatial and fluid ability tests and performance on the RPM. Visuospatial ability was found to significantly contribute to performance on the RPM, over and above fluid ability, supporting the contention that visuospatial ability is involved in RPM performance. No sex differences were found in this relationship, although sex differences in visuospatial ability may explain sex differences in RPM scores.

Keywords: Raven's Progressive Matrices, fluid ability, visuospatial ability, sex differences

Click on images to enlarge. Article link.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty: Current Issues and Controversies: Marc J. Tassé Ph.D., John H. Blume JD MAR: 9781440840142: Books

Providing key information for students or professionals in the fields of criminology, education, psychology, law, and law enforcement, this book documents the legal and clinical aspects of the issues related to intellectual disability and the death penalty.

• Provides a comprehensive review of the legal and clinical aspects of the death penalty and intellectual disability

• Offers a detailed discussion of the Supreme court decision in Atkins v. Virginia as well as a review of court decisions since that 2002 ruling

• Details the diagnostic issues related to determination of intellectual disability, such as the assessment of intellectual functioning, adaptive behavior, and age of onset

• Shares best practices in clinical assessment and important forensic matters that must be considered

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Research Byte: What Causes the Anti-Flynn Effect? A Data Synthesis and Analysis of Predictors

Woodley of Menie, M. A., Peñaherrera-Aguirre, M., Fernandes, H. B. F., & Figueredo, A.-J. (2017). What Causes the Anti-Flynn Effect? A Data Synthesis and Analysis of Predictors. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance online publication.

Article link.


Anti-Flynn effects (i.e., secular declines in IQ) have been noted in a few countries. Much speculation exists about the causes of these trends; however, little progress has been made toward comprehensively testing these. A synthetic literature search yielded a total of 66 observations of secular IQ decline from 13 countries, with a combined sample size of 302,234 and study midyears spanning 87 years, from 1920.5 to 2007.5. Multilevel modeling (MLM) was used to examine the effect of study midyear, and (after controlling for this and other factors) hierarchical general linear modeling (GLM) was used to examine the following sequence of predictors: domain “g-ness” (a rank-order measure of g saturation) Index of Biological State (IBS; a measure of relaxed/reversed selection operating on g), per capita immigration, and the 2-way interactions IBS × g-ness and Immigration × g-ness. The MLM revealed that the anti-Flynn effect has strengthened in more recent years. Net of this, the GLM found that g-ness was a positive predictor; that is, less aggregately g-loaded measures exhibited bigger IQ declines; IBS was not a significant predictor; however immigration predicted the decline, indicating that high levels of immigration promote the anti-Flynn effect. Among the interactions there was a negative effect of the Immigration × g-ness interaction, indicating that immigration promotes IQ decline the most when the measure is higher in g-ness. The model accounted for 37.1% of the variance among the observations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The SCOTUS Lineup on the Death Penalty

The SCOTUS Lineup on the Death Penalty
// Crime and Consequences Blog

The Supreme Court today announced a unanimous per curiam opinion in Dunn v. Madison.  I'll repeat the Heritage Foundation's summary of the case:

[T]he Court reversed a decision of the Eleventh Circuit in an Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) case. AEDPA provides that a state prisoner is entitled to federal habeas relief only if the state trial court's adjudication of the prisoner's claim "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law." In this case, an Alabama trial court sentenced Vernon Madison to death for murdering a police officer. Awaiting execution, Madison suffered several strokes and petitioned for habeas, asserting that he had become incompetent to be executed. Experts testified that although Madison could not remember the "sequence of events from the offense to his arrest to the trial or any of those details," he did understand he was "tried and imprisoned for murder and that Alabama will put him to death as punishment for that crime." The district court denied Madison's petition but the Eleventh Circuit reversed. Today, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that no Supreme Court precedent has "'clearly established' that a prisoner is incompetent to be executed because of a failure to remember his commission of the crime, as distinct from a failure to rationally comprehend the concepts of crime and punishment as applied in his case."


Ginsburg, joined by Breyer and Sotomayor concurred, writing that while AEDPA precludes consideration of the question in this case, the question of "whether a State may administer the death penalty to a person whose disability leaves him without memory of him commission of a capital offense" "warrant[s] full airing." Breyer also concurred, writing separately to (once again) call into question the "unconscionably long periods of time that prisoners often spend on death row awaiting execution."


Perhaps the more interesting topic here is trying to read the tea leaves on the current Supreme Court lineup on the death penalty.  Up to now, it's been reasonably clear that there are four votes in favor (Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch) and two against (Ginsburg and Breyer) (in my first edition, I mistakenly said Ginsburg and Kennedy.  I thank Doug Berman for his catching this).  There has been some doubt about the other three.  I now want to hazard my guess.

Although Justice Sotomayor very conspicuously did not join Justice Breyer's "unconstitutional-in-all-circumstances" Glossip dissent, her views since then seem to me to signal that she will do so in the near future.  Both her language and, so to speak, her body language, tell me she's going to "evolve."

Justice Kennedy is a different matter entirely.  There was ample reason to suspect, given his language in Kennedy v. Louisiana and Roper v. Simmons, that, a few years ago, he was moving in an abolitionist direction.  The fact that he did not write separately in Glossip, and fully joined Justice Alito's opinion for the Court holding point-blank that "the death penalty is constitutional" was, I thought, the single most important thing about that case.  His silence today is another good sign.  I now think it extremely unlikely that Justice Kennedy would vote to outlaw capital punishment, or even adopt any further restraints on its application.  

I'm not sure of the reasons for what I believe to be Justice Kennedy's firming up on this subject, but they might include (1) that the death penalty is inflicted less frequently now, (2) the existence of some high-profile cases like the Boston Marathon bomber and the Charleston church mass killer, where blanket opposition to the death penalty is difficult for a person with a normal conscience to maintain, and (3) Justice Kennedy's respect for precedent, which is not ambiguous on this subject.

This leaves Justice Kagan.  Her refusal to join today's concurrence pushes me to believe what I've been thinking for some time, to wit, that Justice Kagan will not vote to outlaw the death penalty in all circumstances.

Justice Kagan said at her confirmation hearing that she regarded capital punishment as "settled law going forward."  Her actions since they tell me that she is, as I always thought, a person of her word.  It's also very encouraging to see that Justice Kagan draws a sharp line between her personal policy views (which I suspect disapprove the death penalty) and her role as a jurist to follow the law.

Accordingly, I think the current lineup against abolition is 6-3.  Of course it's possible that some of the older Justices (Ginsburg, Kennedy and Breyer) may leave the Court in the next two or three years.  It is, not to put too fine a point on it, inconceivable that President Trump would name a justice opposed to the Court's current view as set forth in Glossip.


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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Meta-analysis supports cognitive ability differentiation hypotheses (SLODOR)


The cognitive ability differentiation hypothesis, which is also termed Spearman's Law of Diminishing Returns, proposes that cognitive ability tests are less correlated and less g loaded in higher ability populations. In ad-dition, the age differentiation hypothesis proposes that the structure of cognitive ability varies across respondent age. To clarify the literature regarding these expectations, 106 articles containing 408 studies, which were published over a 100-year time span, were analyzed to evaluate the empirical basis for ability as well as age differentiation hypotheses. Meta-analyses provide support for both hypotheses and related expectations. Results demonstrate that the mean correlation and g loadings of cognitive ability tests decrease with increasing ability, yet increase with respondent age. Moreover, these effects have been nearly constant throughout the century of analyzed data. These results are important because we cannot assume an invariant cognitive structure for dif-ferent ability and age levels. Implications for practice as well as drawbacks are further discussed.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Federal Court Rules to Protect the Interest of Incompetent North Carolina Death-Row Exoneree

Federal Court Rules to Protect the Interest of Incompetent North Carolina Death-Row Exoneree
// Death Penalty Information Center

A federal judge has voided a contract that had provided Orlando-based attorney Patrick Megaro hundreds of thousands of dollars of compensation at the expense of Henry McCollum (pictured left, with his brother Leon Brown), an intellectually disabled former death-row prisoner who was exonerated in 2014 after DNA testing by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission showed that he had not committed the brutal rape and murder of a young girl for which he had been wrongly convicted and condemned. McCollum and Brown—who both have IQs measured in the 50s and 60s—had been convicted in 1983 based on coerced false confessions that the brothers (aged 19 and 15 at the time) provided to interrogating officers. At the time of his exoneration, McCollum had spent 30 years on death row and was the state's longest serving death-row prisoner. Megaro became McCollum's and Brown's lawyer in March 2015, after two women who claimed to be advocating on behalf of the brothers persuaded them to fire the lawyers who had been representing them in their efforts to obtain compensation and to hire Megaro's firm. McCollum was awarded $750,000 in compensation from North Carolina in October 2015, at least half of which appears to have been paid to Megaro. Within seven months, McCollum was out of money and taking out high-interest loans that had been arranged and approved by Megaro. Megaro also negotiated a proposed settlement of the brothers' wrongful prosecution lawsuit in which he was to receive $400,000 of a $1 million payment to the brothers. Defense lawyer Ken Rose, who represented McCollum for 20 years and helped win McCollum's release from prison, provided testimony that two mental experts had previously found that McCollum was "not competent to provide a confession" and that McCollum remained "vulnerable to manipulation and control by others." After hearing additional evidence from experts and other witnesses, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle determined that, as a result of his intellectual disability, McCollum lacked knowledge and understanding of financial issues, "remains easily manipulated," and was "unable to make important decisions about his person and property." As a result, the court voided the contract between McCollum and Megano, including the fee arrangements. Raymond Tarlton, whom Judge Boyle appointed to serve as McCollum's guardian ad litem, said the decision "made clear that the same disabilities that led to Henry McCollum giving a false confession in 1983 made him vulnerable to be manipulated and controlled after release." The court also has appointed a guardian to protect the interests of Leon Brown. Judge Boyle ordered further briefing pending receipt of the guardian's report to assist in determining the status of the contract between Megaro and Brown.
(Judge nixes high attorney fees for NC man wrongly sentenced to death, Associated Press, October 24, 2017; J. Neff, Innocent, Disabled and Vulnerable, The Marshall Project, October 24, 2017; Editorial: Judge finally rules to benefit of half-brothers, The Robesonian, October 24, 2017.) Read the court's order. See Innocence and Intellectual Disability.
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CFA of WISC-V: A five factor CHC battery

There are dueling factor study articles regarding the WISC-V in the research literature. Here is the take of Reynolds and Keith, who, IMHO, tend to do some of the best factor structure research in intelligence testing.

The five factors look like clear Gc, Gv, Gf, Gwm and Gs CHC factors.


The purpose of this research was to test the consistency in measurement of Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Chil-dren-Fifth Edition (WISC-V; Wechsler, 2014) constructs across the 6 through 16 age span and to understand the constructs measured by the WISC-V. First-order, higher-order, and bifactor confirmatory factor models were used. Results were compared with two recent studies using higher-order and bifactor exploratory factor analysis (Canivez, Watkins, & Dombrowski, 2015; Dombrowski, Canivez, Watkins, & Beaujean, 2015) and two using con-firmatory factor analysis (Canivez, Watkins, & Dombrowski, 2016; Chen, Zhang, Raiford, Zhu, & Weiss, 2015). We found evidence of age-invariance for the constructs measured by the WISC-V. Further, both g and five distinct broad abilities (Verbal Comprehension, Visual Spatial Ability, Fluid Reasoning, Working Memory, and Processing Speed) were needed to explain the covariances among WISC-V subtests, although Fluid Reasoning was nearly equivalent to g. These findings were consistent whether a higher-order or a bifactor hierarchical model was used, but they were somewhat inconsistent with factor analyses from the prior studies. We found a correlation between Fluid Reasoning and Visual Spatial factors beyond a general factor (g) and that Arithmetic was primarily a direct indicator of g. Composite scores from the WISC-V correlated well with their corresponding underlying factors. For those concerned about the fewer numbers of subtests in the Full Scale IQ, the model implied relation between g and the FSIQ was very strong.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

SCOTUS orders Florida to reconsider Atkins case in light of Moore v Texas: Tavares Wright

The United States Supreme Court has ordered the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider a decision that had denied a death-row prisoner's claim that he was ineligible for the death penalty because he has Intellectual Disability. On October 16, the Court reversed and remanded the case of Tavares Wright (pictured, left), directing the Florida courts to reconsider his intellectual-disability claim in light of the constitutional standard the Court set forth in its March 2017 decision in Moore v. Texas.

More information can be found here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

"Neuroscience Nuance: Dissecting the Relevance of Neuroscience in Adjudicating Criminal Culpability"

"Neuroscience Nuance: Dissecting the Relevance of Neuroscience in Adjudicating Criminal Culpability"
// Sentencing Law and Policy

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Christopher Slobogin. Even more than the title, the paper's abstract suggests it is a must-read for sentencing fans:

Most scholars who have written about the role of neuroscience in determining criminal liability and punishment take a stance somewhere between those who assert that neuroscience has virtually nothing to say about such determinations and those that claim it will upend the assumption that most choices to commit crime are blameworthy.  At the same time, those who take this intermediate position have seldom clarified how they think neuroscience can help. This article tries to answer that question more precisely than most works in this vein.  It identifies five types of neuroscience evidence that might be presented by the defense and discusses when that evidence is material under accepted legal doctrine.  It concludes that, even on the assumption that the data presented are accurate, much commonly proffered neuroscientific evidence is immaterial or only weakly material, not only at trial but also at sentencing. At the same time, it recognizes that certain types of neuroscience evidence can be very useful in criminal adjudication, especially at sentencing.


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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Law Review Article: Lucas (2017) An Empirical Assessment of Georgia's Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Standard to Determine Intellectual Disability in Capital Cases

This article can be found at this link.

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Atkins-related Court decision: Cathey v Davis (2017, Texas)

For some reason I failed to post the most recent court decision this past May regarding Cathey, a case where the Flynn effect (norm obsolescence) is prominent. This decision can now be found here. The court granted Cathey a district court hearing to present evidence regarding the Flynn effect in his Atkins claim. Prior Cathey related posts can be found here.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Atkins related case: Wesely Coonce v USA Appellants Opening Brief

The opening appellant brief for the Atkin's related case of Wesley Coonce (Coonce v USA, 2016) is now available for viewing here.

Law Review Article (Meyer, 2017): The newly informed decency of death: Hall v Florida endorses the Marsshall hypothesis in eighth ammendment review of the death penalty

The above titled law review article (Meyer, 2017:  The newly informed decency of death:  Hall v Florida endorses the Marshall hypothesis in eighth amendment review of the death penalty can be found here.

Flynn effect reference project

I had previously maintained a "Flynn effect archive" project at this blog.  In its prior form, it included a reference list and hyperlinks to almost all articles.  I have now found it necessary to remove all posts (and index tag terms) related to that project.  It's purpose has changed.

Originally the idea was to make available most the available research on the Flynn effect.  Over time I noticed (via the hit counter tracker) that fewer and fewer people were consulting it to obtain copies of articles.  The time necessary to maintain the archive, especially after I switched domain servers (which resulted in a ton of obsolete and broken hyperlinks), was not cost-effective.  Thus, that archive is no longer available.

In its place I am now  maintaining (and will update periodically) a simple working list of Flynn effect (aka, norm obsolescence) references.  The current version, dated 09-17-17, can be downloaded by clicking here.  It includes 291 references.  I will refer to this as the Flynn Effect Reference Project.  I will update it on a regular basis, especially since it is now much easier to maintain.

The reference list should not be considered exhaustive of all possible published and unpublished research regarding the Flynn effect.  It is the best I can put together.  Any readers who locate missing articles, or new publications, should contact me via email (go to the MindHub and contact me via the contact info).  I will then add those to the next update.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Evaluating WAIS–IV structure through a different psychometric lens: structural causal model discovery as an alternative to confirmatory factor analysis via BrowZine

Evaluating WAIS–IV structure through a different psychometric lens: structural causal model discovery as an alternative to confirmatory factor analysis
van Dijk, Marjolein J. A. M.; Claassen, Tom; Suwartono, Christiany; van der Veld, William M.; van der Heijden, Paul T.; Hendriks, Marc P. H.
The Clinical Neuropsychologist: Vol. 31 Issue 6-7 – 2017: 1141 - 1154


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Sharing The use of neuropsychological tests to assess intelligence via BrowZine

The use of neuropsychological tests to assess intelligence
Gansler, David A.; Varvaris, Mark; Schretlen, David J.
The Clinical Neuropsychologist: Vol. 31 Issue 6-7 – 2017: 1073 - 1086


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Sharing Psychometrics and statistics: two pillars of neuropsychological practice via BrowZine

Psychometrics and statistics: two pillars of neuropsychological practice
Hilsabeck, Robin C.
The Clinical Neuropsychologist: Vol. 31 Issue 6-7 – 2017: 995 - 999


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Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Intelligent Brain: One of the Great Courses on sale

The Intelligent Brain

1 What Is Intelligence? Probe the nature of intelligence by looking first at the phenomenon of savants—individuals who excel at a narrow mental skill. Does this qualify as…

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Validation of the Advanced Clinical Solutions Word Choice Test (WCT) in a Mixed Clinical Sample: Establishing Classification Accuracy, Sensitivity/Specificity, and Cutoff Scores via BrowZine

File under malingering assessment

Validation of the Advanced Clinical Solutions Word Choice Test (WCT) in a Mixed Clinical Sample: Establishing Classification Accuracy, Sensitivity/Specificity, and Cutoff Scores
Bain, Kathleen M.; Soble, Jason R.
Assessment: Articles in press

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rules against Flynn effect adjustment of IQ scores in Atkins death penalty cases: Black v Carpenter (2017)

A newly published 6th Circuit opinion (Black v Carpenter, 2017) rules against norm obsolescence (the Flynn effect) in the evaluation of IQ test scores in Atkins ID death penalty cases.  I obviously disagree with this decision as outlined in my 2015 chapter in the AAIDD "The Death Penalty and Intellectual Disability" (Polloway, 2015).

I have no further comment at this time as my expert opinion is clearly articulated in the AAIDD publication and I will continue my efforts to educate the courts.  This decision is at variance with the official positions of American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5), the two professional associations with official  guidance regarding  the diagnosis of ID. 

This looks like another issue that might need the attention of SCOTUS.

The following section is extracted from the complete ruling.

E. Implications of the Flynn Effect

There is good reason to have pause before retroactively adjusting IQ scores downward to offset the Flynn Effect. As we noted above, see n.1, supra, the Flynn Effect describes the apparent rise in IQ scores generated by a given IQ test as time elapses from the date of that specific test’s standardization. The reported increase is an average of approximately three points per decade, meaning that for an IQ test normed in 1995, an individual who took that test in 1995 and scored 100 would be expected to score 103 on that same test if taken in 2005, and would be expected to score 106 on that same test in 2015. This does not imply that the individual is “gaining intelligence”: after all, if the same individual, in 2015, took an IQ test that was normed in 2015, we would expect him to score 100, and we would consider him to be of the same “average” intelligence that he demonstrated when he scored 100 on the 1995-normed test in 1995. Rather, the Flynn Effect implies that the longer a test has been on the market after initially being normed, the higher (on average) an individual should perform, as compared with how that individual would perform on a more recently normed IQ test.

At first glance, of course, the Flynn Effect is troubling: if scoring 70 on an IQ test in 1995 would have been sufficient to avoid execution, then why shouldn’t a score of 76 on that same test administered in 2015 (which would produce a “Flynn-adjusted” score of 70) likewise suffice to avoid execution? Further, even if IQ tests were routinely restandardized every year or two to reset the mean score to 100, and even if old IQ tests were taken off the market so as to avoid the Flynn Effect “inflation” of scores that is visible when an IQ test continues to be administered long after its initial standardization, that would only mask, but not change, the fact that IQ scores are said to be rising.

Indeed, perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the Flynn Effect is that it is true. As Dr. Tassé states in his declaration, “[t]he so-called ‘Flynn Effect’ is NOT a theory. It is a wellestablished scientific fact that the US population is gaining an average of 3 full-scale IQ points per decade.” The implications of the Flynn Effect over a longer period of time are jarring: consider a cohort of individuals who, in 1917, took an IQ test that was normed in 1917 and received “normal” scores (say, 100, on average). If we could transport that same cohort of individuals to the present day, we would expect their average score today on an IQ test normed in 2017—a century later—to be thirty points lower: 70, making them mentally retarded, on average.

Alternatively, consider a cohort of individuals who, in 2017, took an IQ test that was normed in 2017 and received “normal” scores (of 100, on average). If we could transport that same cohort of individuals to a century ago, we would expect that their average score on a test normed in 1917 would be thirty points higher: 130, making them geniuses, on average.

It thus makes little sense to use Flynn-adjusted IQ scores to determine whether a criminal is sufficiently intellectually disabled to be exempt from the death penalty. After all, if Atkins stands for the proposition that someone with an IQ score of 70 or lower in 2002 (when Atkins was decided) is exempt from the death penalty, then the use of Flynn-adjusted IQ scores would conceivably lead to the conclusion that, within the next few decades, almost no one with borderline or merely below-average IQ scores should be executed, because their scores when adjusted downward to 2002 levels would be below 70. Indeed, the Supreme Court did not amplify just what moral or medical theory led to the highly general language that it used in Atkins when it prohibited the imposition of a death sentence for criminals who are “so impaired as to fall within the range of mentally retarded offenders about whom there is a national consensus,” 536 U.S. at 317. If Atkins had been a 1917 case, the majority of the population now living—if we were to apply downward adjustments to their IQ scores to offset the Flynn Effect from 1917 until now—would be too mentally retarded to be executed; and until the Supreme Court tells us that it is committed to making such downward adjustments, we decline to do so.

* * *

COLE, Chief Judge, concurring in the opinion except for Section II.E. I concur with the majority opinion except as to the section discussing the implications of the Flynn Effect. In holding that Black did not prove that he had significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, we concluded that Black’s childhood IQ scores would be above 70 even if we adjusted those scores to account for both the SEM and the Flynn Effect. Accordingly, I would not address the question of whether we should apply a Flynn Effect adjustment in cases generally because it is unnecessary to the resolution of Black’s appeal. Regardless, courts, including our own in Black I, have regarded the Flynn Effect as an important consideration in determining who qualifies as intellectually disabled. See, e.g., Black v. Bell, 664 F.3d 81, 95–96 (6th Cir. 2011); Walker v. True, 399 F.3d 315, 322–23 (4th Cir. 2005).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

APA Handbook of Forensic Neuropsychology

APA Handbook of Forensic Neuropsychology

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Time processing in children with mathematical difficulties via BrowZine

Time processing in children with mathematical difficulties
Cester, Ilaria; Mioni, Giovanna; Cornoldi, Cesare
Learning and Individual Differences: Vol. 58 – 2017: 22 - 30


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