Behavioral Assessment

Psychological testing uses samples of behavior in order to make generalizations about people. Samples of behavior include observations of prescribed tasks, which may or may not include formal testing materials. The individual's responses are often checked against statistical tables that allow the tester to compare the test-taker's responses to those of a larger group. When multiple tests are administered, the procedure is referred to as a test battery. A useful psychological measure must be both valid (i.e., actually measures what it claims to measure) and reliable (i.e., internally consistent or give consistent results over time).

Psychological testing is not the same as psychological assessment. Psychological assessment may use behavioral observation, test results, and other information such as personal and medical history, description of current symptoms, and collateral information (interviews with other persons about the person being assessed).
A functional behavioral assessment, or analysis, is a formal process which seeks to identify problem behaviors in a child or adolescent, particularly in school, so that the function or purpose of the behavior can be determined and more acceptable alternatives to the behavior can be provided.

Behavioral assessment provides ways to compare current behaviors to population norms, show individuals where their behaviors are the same or different from others, classify or diagnose clinical problems, identify problem behaviors and suggest more viable alternatives.