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Robert Bornstein’s Process Focused Model Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jul 2nd, 2020

Validity is the most important criterion to speak about the effectiveness of the certain type of psychological assessment. To focus on maximizing the tests’ validity, psychologists and researchers pay much attention to measuring the biasness and guarantees related to this or that psychological assessment tool (Cohen, Swerdlik, & Sturman, 2012, p. 54). In his article “Toward a Process Focused Model of Test Score Validity: Improving Psychological Assessment in Science and Practice” (2011), Robert Bornstein discusses the process focused (PF) model as the unique approach to stating the validity of psychological assessment.

Thus, Bornstein states that the PF model as the alternative approach differs from the traditional approaches in accentuating the process instead of outcome and using experimentation instead of correlation; and to conclude about the PF model’s effectiveness, it is important to focus on the observed differences in approaches, to describe the model’s features, and to concentrate on assessing the test’s validity with the help of Bornstein’s PF model.

Comparison of the PF Model with the Traditional Models of Validity

While comparing and contrasting the PF model with the traditional models of validity used by psychologists and researchers, it is necessary to pay attention to the range of different and similar aspects. Using the traditional approaches to validity, psychologists are focused on the outcome. On the contrary, the users of the PF model are oriented to discussing the process of the psychological assessment because during this process, the respondent is influenced by the variety of factors such as the instrument and the context of the assessment.

As a result, much attention should be paid to the observed psychological processes because the contextual factors can affect the respondent’s psychological state during the assessment significantly. Thus, referring to the key evidence, Bornstein discusses the validity as the degree associated with the respondent’s involvement into the psychological assessment process instead of measuring it in relation to the reliability of the results.

From this point, the PF model focuses on the degree to which test scores can be affected by manipulation of variables (Bornstein, 2011, p. 532-533). In this case, the respondent’s psychological states are discussed as the important factors to affect the results of the assessment in contrast to the traditional approach when researchers concentrate only on the outcomes.

The other important difference is in using the experimental methods to analyze the respondent’s answers in relation to the definite criteria. The followers of the traditional approaches use the correlational methods. However, the experimental methods are more effective because they allow manipulating the variables to receive the most valid results (Bornstein, 2011, p. 532).

Referring to the test development goals, traditional models can “maximize test score-outcome correlation” when the PF model demonstrates the “impact of theoretically related process” (Bornstein, 2011, p. 540). Such differences as the focus on the process itself and on experimentation in contrast to the accentuated outcome and correlation are the main ones because they demonstrate the opposite character of the discussed traditional and alternative approaches.

Why It Is Important to Use the PF Model of Validity

The PF model can be discussed as not only the alternative approach to discussing the psychological assessments’ validity but also as the more effective approach to receiving the credible results. According to Bornstein, it is significant and useful to focus on the PF model because it can provide the researchers with the opportunity to understand the nature of the observed results and biases, to improve the whole assessment procedure, and to provide the most concrete results while being implemented in combination with the traditional approaches to validity (Bornstein, 2011, p. 533-534).

The PF model is important to be actively used by the psychologists because it allows concentrating on the factors and features which are usually ignore by professionals while following the traditional approaches to validity. That is why, Bornstein stresses on the importance of the extraneous factors as crucial ones in assessing the certain constructs. Thus, the focus on extraneous variables is necessary to manipulate them in order to receive the most valid and concrete results.

To conclude about validity, it is necessary to analyze all the factors which can influence the expected results. This idea is stated by Bornstein in his article, and it can be discussed as the fundament to accentuate the importance of the PF model. Therefore, Bornstein determines instrument-based processes and the context-based influences as the key factors to affect the psychological assessment results. The type of the used instrument influences the respondent’s perception in relation to the test, and the situational factors as the assessment setting, instructional set, affect state, and examiner effects can influence the alternations in the respondent’s psychological state during the assessment (Bornstein, 2011, p. 537-538).

Focusing on the aspects which are beyond the psychological assessment itself, researchers can receive the most complex and detailed results regarding the examined construct. It is necessary to choose the complex validation strategy where the PF model is one of the steps to receive the reliable results. Furthermore, the PF model connects the psychological assessment results with the other fields of the psychology and sociology, guaranteeing the focus on the most credible implications.

Bornstein’s Model to Assess Validity for the Certain Construct and Selected Test

Bornstein proposes four steps to implement the PF model. These steps are the deconstruction of assessment instruments, the evaluation of process-outcome links, the interpretation of the outcome, and the evaluation of generalizability (Bornstein, 2011, p. 539). It is possible to refer to these four steps while focusing on the validity in relation to the construct of anxiety while assessing it with the help of the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (Barlow, 2004, p. 350). It is important to pay much attention while assessing the respondent’s level of anxiety that is why the assessment of the test’s validity is the significant procedure.

The first step of the PF model’s implementation is the deconstruction of assessment instruments. It is necessary to specify the underlying psychological processes and identify context variables which can affect the assessment of the respondent’s level of anxiety. Thus, it is important to state that the respondent can suffer from the high level of anxiety sensitivity and panic disorders (Barlow, 2004, p. 350). The respondent can feel fear because of the necessity of being assessed, the examiner can use the assessment inappropriately increasing the respondent’s fear, and the respondent can inadequately assess his or her psychological state because of the fears associated with the concrete setting such as dark rooms, for instance.

The second step is based on the necessity to turn the process-altering variables into manipulations. Thus, the Anxiety Sensitivity Index is the self-attribution test, and respondents can provide inadequate answer while being affected with the context variables (Bornstein, 2011, p. 539). Having altered such negative setting as the dark room by the positive setting where there are no factors to distract the respondent’s attention and affect his or her additionally, it is possible to receive more valid results. The next stage is the assessment with the help of the Anxiety Sensitivity Index within the altered environments and with the minimal role of the examiner.

The next step is the interpretation of the outcome with the focus on the limiting conditions. Thus, it is necessary to list the aspects which could affect the validity of the results. While assessing the anxiety with the help of the Anxiety Sensitivity Index, these limitations can include the role of the examiner in the process, the adequateness of the instructions about selecting the rating criterion, the respondent’s concentration on his or her physical, cognitive, or social aspects of life, depending on the observed environments (Bornstein, 2011, p. 539).

These aspects can include the noticed pictures, heard sounds and conversations, experienced feelings and emotions such as happiness or pain. The final step is the evaluation of generalizability. To state whether the dark room, examiner’s involvement, heard sounds and conversations, and experienced feelings and emotions can affect the respondent’s answers regarding anxiety, it is necessary to conduct more investigations within different contexts and with different populations.


Bornstein’s PF model can be discussed as the alternative approach to assessing the psychological tests’ validity. This model differs from the traditional approaches in relation to focusing on the process instead of outcome and on empirical results and methods instead of using correlational methods. The importance of the PF model can be supported with references to analyzing the appropriateness of the Anxiety Sensitivity Index to assess the persons’ level of anxiety. Following the PF model, it is possible to manipulate the variables which usually affect the Anxiety Sensitivity Index’s validity.


Barlow, D. (2004). Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic. USA: Guilford Press.

Bornstein, R. F. (2011). Toward a process focused model of test score validity: Improving psychological assessment in science and practice. Psychological Assessment, 23(2), 532-544.

Cohen, R. J., Swerdlik, M., & Sturman, E. (2012). Psychological testing and assessment: An introduction to tests and measurement. USA: McGraw-Hill Education.

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