Objective: Previous research has found third party observation (TPO) negatively affects performance on neuropsychological tests. However, these studies mostly used non-clinical populations and between-subject designs, which do not control for individual differences in cognitive functioning. Additionally, there have been no published studies examining TPO effects on the California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT-II), one of the most widely used memory tests. The current study examined the effects of TPO on CVLT-II performance in a clinical group using a within-subjects design.
Participants / Method: Thirty participants, 47% female; M(SD): age = 37.00(13.61); education = 14.3(2.5) referred for neuropsychological evaluation were administered both the standard and alternate forms of the CVLT-II, in that order. Length of time between administrations was 1 - 91 days, M(SD) = 22.47(19.29). Order of TPO presence was counterbalanced.
Results: Paired-samples t-test analyzed difference scores for the following CVLT-II variables: Trial 1, Trial B, Trial 1-5 Total, Short Delay Free Recall, Short Delay Cued Recall, Long Delay Free Recall, Long Delay Cued Recall, Hits, False Positives, and Discriminability. Results indicated a statistically significant effect for Trial 1 only, although this effect was clinically meaningful for only 13% of participants (4/30). Additionally, one-way ANOVAs indicated males performed worse on Trial 1 when observed by females, and females performed worse on Hits when observed by males.
Conclusions: There was a significant TPO effect only for CVLT-II Trial 1 score and effects were not clinically significant the vast majority of time (87%). Potential examinee-TPO gender interactions merit further examination.
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