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Statements of EAPA presidents

Matthias Ziegler

What do you see as important tasks for EAPA and its members?

Psychological assessment is a cornerstone in modern society: From clinics, over schools, to organizations and government initiatives, psychological assessment can be found almost everywhere. While this is a great achievement, it also means that many non-experts use assessments to derive decisions. In order to ensure the quality and fairness of these decisions, the tools used, processes implemented, and evaluation methods used need to be of prime quality. This is where the EAPA and its members are needed. A continued research effort, facing the challenges of modern society, and contributing to their solutions is needed. EAPA should regard itself as the platform where experts, practitioners, and lawmakers meet. Moreover, our journal, the EJPA, should be regarded as one of the primary sources for high quality research results regarding all aspect of assessment.

What works well in psychological assessment, and why is it important?

If we look into the past, it surely is an achievement that there is a widely agreed upon standard regarding the psychological process. Norms such as the ISO 10667 or the DIN 33430 attest to this just as much as standard textbooks. Likewise, there are many well validated assessment instruments and an astounding body of research focusing on methods from questionnaires and tests to interviews and behavior observation. This continued effort and practice-oriented output is important as it manifests the role of assessment in science and society.

What should be improved in the area of psychological assessment?

This is a difficult question… Singling out one or even just a few issues might sound as if all the other questions have been dealt with. I would not like to evoke such an impression. However, one issue I see that researchers dealing with assessment related issues need to be more aware of the practical consequences of their work. Moreover, as a psychological association we need to be more active in promoting our findings, ensuring that they find their way to practitioners and lawmakers. Well, and finally, psychological assessment, just like many other disciplines, faces a huge challenge: Artificial Intelligence. It is my personal conviction that the future of psychological assessment can benefit immensely. This makes it even more important that we embrace this chance and help creating AI based solutions that live up to the quality standards we are so proud of.

Fons van de Vijver

What do you see as important tasks for EAPA and its members?

Historically, EAPA has served an I important function in bringing researchers working in the area of psychological assessment together in conferences. EAPA has an established tradition in organizing high-quality, well-attended conferences. These international meetings were and are helpful in informing each other about recent studies and developments in the field. There is also an important additional role: these meetings play an important role to socialize with national and international friends, to discuss ideas for new research and in some cases also make appointments about new research. So, conferences have always been inspirational for many members, which has undoubtedly contributed to their good reputation. EAPA also serves an important role in providing the aegis to the European Journal of Psychological Assessment. Although the journal is run independently (this independence is the best guarantee of quality of the journal and its needed exclusive focus on quality of manuscripts), the link with EAPA has always been obvious. There has always been a close contact between EAPA Officers and the journal board.  Finally, there is the fledgling role of the website to facilitate communication among members and about EAPA-related topics. I see these topics as the essential elements of EAPA and the main contribution of the Association and its members to the field of assessment in general.

What works well in psychological assessment, and why is it important?

Psychological assessment has a long tradition in psychology and the field has been remarkably successful in fostering the goals of psychological assessment: promoting high-quality instruments and establishing guidelines of adequate assessment and disseminating these guidelines. The field of cross-cultural assessment has become amazingly heterogeneous since its inception more than a c century ago. Still, this focus on quality and agreement on how to establish this quality has been a recurrent theme in its history. There have always been emerging themes and procedures. For example, when computers were introduced thirty years ago, the role of the computer in psychological assessment become prominent. The theme has been studied and attracts very little attention anymore. The most important issues have been addressed by now. More recently, assessment in cognitive science is becoming more important. This introduction may also follow a similar pattern of a quick rise, peak, and slow decline (unless we would be able to establish firm links between brain activity and relevant psychological behavior that would open up the need for new types of psychological assessment). However, there are also topics that remain unfinished and complex even after considerable study. The topic of behavioral assessment is a good example. Understanding the psychological meaning of such behavioral assessment procedures has turned out to be elusive.

What should be improved in the area of psychological assessment?

The fact that assessment has established itself as a discipline that you can study and teach has both an advantage and a limitation. The main advantage is the various achievements I described above. Yet, it is also important to realize the limitation of such independence: assessment has become a field that is not always well linked to its parental disciplines. Assessment can be simplified to a set of standard procedures in the process describing how instruments should be administered, analyzed and reported. However, good assessment is in interaction with personality, developmental and other types of psychology. What is often absent is that novel models in personality or organizational psychology are used as impetus to explore novel ways of assessment. If all is well, there is constant interaction and cross-fertilization of assessment and substantive models in psychology.  Do not see that cooperation very often.  

Karl Schweizer

In times of the so-called replication crisis high-quality assessment is more than just needed. Such assessment is necessary as basis and outset that can lead psychological research to a brighter tomorrow. EAPA should take a leading role in the process of equipping researchers with appropriate quality standards and all sorts of high-quality measurement devices.