Free «The Errors of Psychological Assessments» Essay Sample


Psychological assessment is an imperfect endeavor. However, we strive toward the assessment being good enough to be useful. Sometimes examiners have to make decisions about what type of error is acceptable in a psychological assessment tool to be able to establish mechanisms against the error. One psychological assessment tool used in the sexual therapy is the Sexual Communication Inventory that is designed to develop communication skills in couples about sexual matters in their relationships. In using the tool, the psychologist will need to understand the hits, misses, false positive errors, and false negative errors that occur in the communication between couples. This paper uses the Sexual Communication Inventory to understand and analyze the issues of hits, misses, false positive errors, and false negative errors. The paper specifically seeks to outline how the four elements apply in interpreting the construct measured by the Sexual Communication Inventory instrument of assessment.


Psychological assessment tools have gone along transformative since the inventory of the first tool. Technological advancements have introduced new ways of doing things and it is almost as though some of the things will be swallowed away in the wave of technology. However, psychological tools still stand the test of time as psychologists continue to find them increasingly important in trying to understand the many challenges afflicting humanity. One of the most affected areas of humanity in the recent past with modernization or better still, “technologization” of human life, is the human sexuality. It is possible that some of the happenings in the sexuality faction of human life might have been happening hundreds or even thousands of years ago but the rate at which sexual predicament was facing man probably differ. Nevertheless, the availability of different psychological tools in sexual therapy is helping professionals and experts to understand some of the strangest sexual behaviors amongst human beings and effectively being able to address such cases and come to plausible and formidable solution. This paper uses the Sexual Communication Inventory to understand and analyze the issues of hits, misses, false positive errors, and false negative errors. The paper specifically seeks to outline how the four elements apply in interpreting the construct measured by the Sexual Communication Inventory instrument of assessment. Finally, the paper discusses the relevance of each of the four elements in evaluating the validity of Sexual Communication Inventory in human sexuality.

The Sexual Communication Inventory is a psychological assessment tool that is “designed to help couples develop their skills for communicating about sexual matters in their relationship”. This is an important aspect of sexual relationship between couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual or whichever sexual orientation that the two subscribes to.  A lot of people who are in a sexual relationship actually do not know how to communicate effectively to their partners in matters to do with sex.  What this means is that most sexual communications in marriages are characterized by hits misses, false positives errors, or false negative errors. In other words, communication is fractured across the board and therefore there is a lack of a systematic and standardized way of communication for married couples who want to have a health and effective communication in the relationship (Crowe & Ridley, 2008).

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As such, communication between the two just occurs by chance, where it actually occurs it is also rare that the right thing will be communicated or better understood by the recipient of the message. The correct predictions, in the case of Sexual Communication Inventory, that communication will occur in the right environment and in the right manner is called hits. At the same time, communication could occur between the two partners but in a wrong environment and in an ineffective manner, then this can be referred to as misses. Occasionally, in a typical marriage setting across all culture, a married couple would experience more misses in their communication than hits, and this is a result of a number of factors some of which are beyond their own control capacity.  Similarly, hits can be interpreted in terms of true positives or true negatives, which may denote false positive errors and false negative errors. In the Sexual Communication Inventory, this might be interpreted as situations where one partner in a sexual relationship is genuinely communicating to the other partner and the partner communicates in the same manner or a partner is communicating genuinely and the other partner does not respond genuinely (Hertlein, Weeks & Sendak, 2012).

Additionally, situations could occur which are completely opposite in nature and thus implies true negatives and false negatives. This means that communication is happening between the two partners but none is communicating in a positive way. Thus, hits are predicted and in fact occur in a relationship or hits are predicted and never occur at all. In terms of misses they can also be predicted and occur or predicted but never occur. Moreover, some sexually related partners can completely choose not to communicate to each other and thus denotes a false negative error, a situation where there is zero communication and none of the partners is willing to communicate to each other.  in false positive errors, communication is occurring between the sexually related partners but the messaging being communicated is not what each of the partners expects. In other words, there is chaotic communication between the partners and this may be characterized by shouting or even fighting in the relationship (Hertlein, Weeks & Sendak, 2012).

In a typical sexual relationship, hits, misses, false positive errors, and false negative errors are prevalent. For instance, one partner may be willing to talk to the other partner and actually talk to him or her with an intention of passing across a positive image. The partner may choose to listen to the other and respond depending on the situation and weight which he or she attaches to the messages being communicated. In situations where the two come to an agreement, this can be interpreted as a positive hit because in really sense communication did happen between the two which then were in mutual agreement with the message communicated. In other cases, the communicating partner may choose to communicate information which he or she does not believe and expect the other partner to respond in the same manner. However, the partner being communicated to may choose to receive the message again depending on his or her interpretation, the intention of the person communicating notwithstanding. The sexual communication inventory tool is thus a psychological assessment tool that can be applied in almost every family or setup where two consenting adults choose to have a sexual relationship with each other (Hertlein, Weeks & Sendak, 2012).

Characteristically, Sexual Communication Inventory tool comes about as an instrument that could be applied in cases where there is a difficult in communication among sexually related partners. It helps in understanding the causes of misses and hits and provides plausible solutions to partners who are having problems of communication in their relationships. Since the aim of testing is to assist in making decisions, Sexual Communication Inventory can be a useful tool in helping couples to develop good communication skills especially in matters concerning sex. One way of determining the credibility of the assessment is to examine the number of hits that actually occur between sexually related partners against the number of times when actually misses occurs. In a further analysis, evaluation of false positive errors and false negative errors may help in identifying the source of the problem in a couple (Crowe & Ridley, 2008).

Discussion of Relevance of Four Elements to of Sexual Communication Inventory

From the above analysis, it is evident that Sexual Communication Inventory assessment tool can be effectively implemented between couples who are having problems in their communication by examining the hits, misses, false positive errors, and false negative errors between the couples. The assessment tool is designed to help develop their skills for communicating about sexual matters in their relationship. This can be done by examining the number of hits and misses in terms of communication and also false positives and false negative errors where one partner is only communicating to the other or both partners are not willing to communicate at all. The purpose of communication between couples is to build consensus in matters related to sex. The ability to communicate effectively with the needs and feelings of the other partner in mind will help in establishing more hits than misses in communication. In using the Sexual Communication Inventory test scores, a psychologist will be able to know the way to advice a couple on listening skills, communication skills and other skills that will enhance their communication capacity and ensure that hits occur in the relationship. The importance thing is to eliminate false positive errors and false negative errors where one of the partners is communicating effectively while the other is not willing to respond to the message or is responding in a negative way. The four elements are relevant in interpreting the kind of communication that is taking place between the couple and may form a basis to which a psychologist advices the couple. It could also be used by the couples themselves to evaluate their communication capability (Crowe & Ridley, 2008).

 In conclusion, the essence of the tool is to ensure that there is effective communication occurring between the partners by allowing them to develop positive communication skills, this can be developed through counseling or other sexual therapies in a struggling couple. Being able to predict that communication will occur between the two partners is good starting point in trying to locate the source of poor and ineffective communication between partners. However, the psychologists need also to understand the areas where communication is occurring in the wrong way so that he or she knows better which advice to give to the couple. This information can be found by analyzing the other elements like misses, false positive errors, and false negative errors.


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