The Effect of Observational Method and Task Complexity on Neuropsychological Test Performance
Neuropsychologists are often called upon to conduct psychological examination in the presence of an observer in litigation cases despite research clearly demonstrating altered performance on neuropsychological tests under such conditions. Past research into the social facilitation effect suggests attentional conflict (Baron, 1986; Manstead & Semin, 1980) and increased anxiety (Guerin & Innes, 1982; Guerin, 1983) when observers are present and cannot be monitored. However, this research has found conflicting results depending upon the complexity of tasks and differences in observation condition. Meta analyses point to task complexity (Bond & Titus, 1983) and evaluation apprehension (Guerin, 1986) as important moderators of observer effects. Professional organizations have proposed audiovisual recording as an alternative to direct observation. The present study examined the effects of active observation and audiovisual recording on neuropsychological test performance on both simple and complex tasks to determine if task complexity is an important moderating factor in suggested observational conditions. It was expected that performance of simple tasks would not be affected by observation while performance of complex tasks would deteriorate with observation. Results indicate that neither simple nor complex tasks were affected by observation in this study.
Advisor:George D. Stain; Alan Baumeister; Phillip J. Brantley; Wm. Drew Gouvier; Paula J. Geiselman
School:Louisiana State University in Shreveport
School Location:USA - Louisiana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:07/08/2004