HOW MANY FACTORS UNDERLIE THE WAIS-III in .NET

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HOW MANY FACTORS UNDERLIE THE WAIS-III
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Researchers and clinicians using the WAIS tended to interpret many factors when trying to
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explain adult intellectual performance. Cohen typically interpreted as meaningful four or five WAIS factors for various normal and clinical samples (Berger et al., 1964; Cohen, 1957a, 1957b). Wechsler (1958) delighted in finding clinical interpretations of small, exotic factors. For example, he interpreted Cohen s Factor D, defined by Picture Completion and little else, as a dimension of relevance : By relevance we mean appropriateness of response. This is perhaps illustrated by instances when appropriateness is lacking. For example, many schizophrenics and other subjects, instead of noting the called for and essential missing part of a picture, respond with an irrelevant detail (p. 126). Cohen s statistical sophistication was vitally necessary during the 1950s to impose some psychometric order on the clinical art of profile interpretation, and Wechsler s clinical genius is axiomatic. In retrospect, however, Cohen grossly
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FACTOR ANALYSIS OF THE WAIS-III
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overfactored in most of his landmark factor-analytic studies of Wechsler s scales, and Wechsler attempted to assign clinical meaning to statistical artifacts. Wechsler was a consummate clinician who developed the Wechsler-Bellevue as a clinical tool to be used for measuring cognition within the broader domain of personality. However, the fact that Cohen overfactored and Wechsler overinterpreted WAIS dimensions should not impel researchers or clinicians to take a position that is diametrically opposite. Yet, that is exactly what some professionals have done in arguing strenuously that Wechsler s scales are nothing but one-factor instruments (e.g., O Grady, 1983). Reducing the WAIS-III to a one-score instrument and cautioning clinicians to beware of the separate Verbal and Performance IQs because of their statistical overlap, which makes it not surprising that both researchers...and practitioners...have been unable to employ a Verbal Performance discrepancy index with any degree of power as a diagnostic tool (O Grady, 1983, p. 830), effectively cripples clinical artistry. As Leckliter, Matarazzo, and Silverstein (1986) stress, the main reason for factor-analyzing a Wechsler battery is to provide the basis for hypothesis testing by the examiner (p. 341). With that as a rationale, the real issue is whether the WAIS-III is best interpreted as a two-, three-, or a four-factor test battery.
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ARE THERE TWO, THREE, OR FOUR WAIS-III FACTORS
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The data we have presented thus far in this chapter have shown that the one-factor model of the WAIS-III is not the best statistical fit. However, the two-, three-, and four-factor models all seem to have some merit. The confirmatory maximum likelihood factor analyses (Psychological Corporation, 1997; Ward et al., 2000) compared and contrasted various multiple-factor models of the
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WAIS-III to determine which was the most statistically sound and clinically useful (see Tables 7.1 and 7.2). In the total sample, as well as across most of the five age groups studied, The Psychological Corporation (1997) found significant successive improvements in model fit moving from two to three to four factors. The conclusion was that the four-factor model best fits the data for the total sample and most age groups. Ward et al. (2000) found that the three-factor models statistically fit better than the two-factor model; however, the advantage was very minimal. An important observation made by Ward et al. was that their alternative two-factor model, which assigns the three Working Memory subtests to the Performance Scale (see Table 7.2, Model 2B) afforded a better fit in the younger groups than did the traditional dichotomy of Verbal Performance subtests. In comparing the three- and four-factor models, Ward et al. found that, overall, there were no important differences between the three- and four-factor models. The fit differences were negligible between three- and fourfactor models, and the three-factor models were somewhat more parsimonious in a statistical sense. The Ward et al. finding of near-equivalence of three- and four-factor models is interesting in light of the robust and meaningful three-factor solution reported by Kaufman et al. (2001). However, to this point, each of the findings has been presented in statistical isolation, without regard to the psychological meaningfulness or possible theoretical underpinnings of the factor models. To best discern which model has the best fit, we have to start with statistics but move on to integrate how these factors may be interpreted psychologically. Beginning with the statistics, it seems that the question boils down to whether the three- or four-factor model is the best for the WAIS-III. The two-factor model does fit with the Verbal Performance dichotomy, but the numbers show that there is an advantage (albeit perhaps small) for interpreting at least three factors (Kaufman et al., 2001; Psychological Corporation, 1997; Ward et al., 2000). The Psychological Corporation ultimately argues for four factors and Kaufman et al.
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