Problems with Psychological Testing for the Behavior Analyst: Issues of Philosophical Dissensions Beyond Semantics

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Ragnar Storaasli

First Committee Member

John McNeil

Second Committee Member

Michael Stein


Behavior analysis, psychological testing, assessment, philosophy


The qualification to administer traditional psychological tests is largely privileged to doctoral level mental health providers and represents an important demarcation between clinicians with a doctorate or masters degree. Furthermore, psychological testing has increasingly become an emphasized training standard in doctoral clinical psychology programs. For the behavior analyst, however, traditional psychological assessment is at odds with the philosophical and theoretical foundations of contextual behavioral science and according therapeutic applications. Such odds are not just semantics that can be accommodated with choice of terminology, but rather begin at the level of worldview. Differences in worldview between behavior analysis and mainstream contemporary psychology are discussed with emphasis on major distinctions in relation to language, causality, and science plans, and how these distinctions directly apply to psychological assessment. The paper concludes with a discussion about how the behavioral analyst can approach testing given some fundamental philosophical dissensions that cannot be modified or translated via semantic changes.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


33 pages

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