Buros-Nebraska Series on Measurement and Testing


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Published in Multicultural Assessment in Counseling and Clinical Psychology, edited by Gargi Roysircar Sadowsky and James C. Impara (Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 1996).


Copyright © 1996 by Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Digital edition copyright © 2012 Buros Center for Testing.



The propriety of administering psychological tests standardized on nonminority, middle-class, and English-speaking populations to examinees who are not fluent in English or are from culturally or demographically diverse backgrounds has been a controversial topic for over five decades (Dana, 1993b; Olmedo, 1981). Although the controversy originally surrounded intelligence testing of Blacks, similar allegations of bias toward Hispanics have been raised in the context of personality testing and diagnostic evaluation, a topic which is our present focus. The prevailing view is that in the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary, standard mental health evaluation procedures are considered unbiased (e. g., Lopez, 1988). The other side of the polemic argues that clients' variations in English-language proficiency, cultural background, or demographic profile pose potential sources of bias for standard assessment and diagnostic practices (e.g., Dana, 1993b; Malgady, Rogler, & Costantino, 1987). That is, behavior recorded in an assessment situation-whether by symptom rating scale, projective test or face-to-face psychiatric interview- may present a distorted image of the attributes the assessment process is intended to reveal. Even in the absence of compelling empirical evidence, we argue that assessment procedures ought not to be routinely generalized to different cultural groups, and multicultural tests and assessments should be increasingly used (Costantino, 1992; 1993; Malgady, 1990, 1996).

This chapter first presents a review of selected literature on the topic of multicultural assessment. This literature is organized according to a variety of definitions of test bias in accordance with psychometric tradition: face and content validity, mean differences, factor invariance, differential validity/prediction, and measurement equivalence. We then turn to a specific effort to develop a "culturally sensitive" psychological assessment technique for pluralistic groups: the TEMAS ("Tell-Me-A-Story") test. Developmental and psychometric research on this test has been conducted on Hispanic children and adolescents, as well as Blacks and Whites. Finally, the clinical utility of the TEMAS test is illustrated through the presentation of three case studies.