Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Bender-Gestalt Test, Brain damage



Physical Description

1 online resource (90 pages)


It is a frequent occurrence in accident cases involving alleged brain injury and attendant damage suits, for the defendant's attorney to charge the plaintiff in the case with malingering. At some time in the court proceedings it i.s also common that the plaintiff's psychologist will testify to the court that his client's brain damage is genuine, not feigned. but heretofore, clinicians have been able to speak to the court only from their own background of clinical experience, and clinicians have been known to disagree. They have not been able to refer to a body of research that has addressed itself to the question, Can Ss simulate brain damage on the Bender-Gestalt Test? This issue is particularly significant since many clinicians use the Bender to assess cases in which brain damage is suspected. Since the thrust of this study was exploratory, the answer to this experimental question is not totally conclusive. However, it was determined that college Ss of at least normal intelligence who did not present evidence of brain damage on an initial Bender screening could not simulate traumatic brain damage. Although there is little reason to believe that non-organic Ss from other kinds of educational backgrounds (excluding, possibly, Ss who are extremely knowledgeable about the Bender), ages and levels of intelligence could simulate traumatic brain damage successfully, this possibility exists and should be researched. The project consisted of a pilot study and a main study. In the pilot study 18 volunteers from an upper division psychology class were tested with a Bender in a group situation under standard instructions. Four weeks later they were . asked to simulate brain damage on the Bender. The test records of 18 organic Ss were used to form a criterion group. An ABPP certified clinical psychologist then attempted to sort the malingerers from the organics (Sort 1) and the normals from the organics (Sort 2). On the first sort, 2 of the 18 Ss in each group were missorted. On the second sort, 1 organic and 2 normals were missorted. The resulting Phi coefficients were .78 and .83, respectively. Since existing quantitative sorting methods (Le., the Pascal-Suttell system and the Canter system) were not able to validly differentiate malingerers from organics, it became necessary to spell out the implicit criteria which the clinician used as he performed his sorts. An analysis of the criteria then revealed that all of the missorts, except 1 organic S, involved confusions of "normal" Ss who were either borderline organics or mildly organic with organic S5 who were mildly organic. The main study was necessary to replicate the findings obtained from the pilot study since the criteria devised therefrom were formulated 'ex post facto.' The results obtained were generally comparable to those from the pilot study. In the main study, a second clinician independently sorted the groups in order to provide a reliability check on the sorting procedure. An analysis of the sorting decisions resulting from the criteria-based sorting procedure indicated that the sorting decisions of the 2 clinicians concurred on 84% of the protocols in the malingerer-organic sort and on 94% of the records in the normal-organic sort. A sort-resort operation by the first clinician on the malingerer-organic sort with one day intervening resulted in 100% agreement between his judgments.


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