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Psychological Assessment in Asia: Introduction to the Special Section
Fanny M. Cheung
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Frederick T. L. Leong
Ohio State University
Yossef S. Ben-Porath
Kent State University
Psychological assessment with Asians is an important topic not only for psychologists from Asiancountries but also for psychologists in multicultural societies with large populations of ethnic Asians.There is a dearth of information in the English language literature on psychological assessment forAsians. This special section is organized to review various forms of psychological assessment in Asia.The objectives of the special section are to inform test users and researchers of the issues related tocross-cultural validity of psychological assessment in Asia and to introduce examples of adapted andindigenously developed instruments that are culturally appropriate.
Psychological assessment constitutes a major function of psy-chologists in clinical and counseling settings in Asia (D. W. Chan& Lee, 1995; Cheung, 1996, in press; Dai, Zheng, Ryan, & Paolo,1993; Higgins & Sun, 2002; Matsubara, 1984; Ogawa & Pi-otrowski, 1992; Tsoi & Sundberg, 1989; Zhang, 1988). Cliniciansuse psychological tests for diagnostic and treatment decisions;objective tests are the most commonly used assessment methods.Especially in countries where clinical psychology is a relativelyyoung profession, the use of scientific tools enhances the status of the profession and distinguishes it from other allied professions(Cheung, 1996, in press). Major Western instruments such as theWechsler intelligence scales for adults and children (Wechsler,1955, 1974) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory(MMPI; Hathaway & McKinley, 1967) have been translated andadapted for use in many areas of Asia, including mainland China,Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.Yet, few psychologists outside Asia are aware of these develop-ments. Fewer still are aware of the development of indigenousmeasures.The influx of Asian immigrants into the United States and otherWestern countries in recent decades has raised the need for clini-cians to become familiar with tests that are prevalently in use inAsia and their cross-cultural validity. According to Kim, Atkinson,and Yang (1999), Asian Americans born overseas constituted over50% of the Asian American population in the United States. The7.2 million Asians born overseas also made up 25.5% of theforeign-born population in 2000 (U.S. Bureau of the Census,2001). The most common countries of origin are China, the Phil-ippines, India, Vietnam, and Korea.In psychological assessment, these immigrants differ fromAsian Americans who are able to use the original English languagetests. The fundamental issues of cultural validity of assessment thatconfront researchers and practitioners working with Asian Amer-icans in general are exacerbated among recent immigrants withlimited levels of language proficiency and acculturation (Kim etal., 1999; Kuraski, Okazaki, & Sue, 2002). Personal accounts frompractitioners who have assessed Asian immigrants have shown thatthe language and cultural difficulties of their clients may misleadthe evaluating mental health professionals to give ominous diag-noses with detrimental outcomes. A few American practitionershave occasionally requested their Asian colleagues to providenative language versions of psychological tests for assessing theirnon-English-speaking clients. However, there are few native lan-guage versions that can serve the purpose and few practitionerswho are familiar with these limited resources.Even when Asian American clients are familiar with English,they vary in their degree of acculturation to American values andbehaviors (Kim et al., 1999). There is a need for culturally relevantand sensitive assessment of ethnic Asian minority clients in amulticultural U.S. society (Atkinson, Morten, & Sue, 1998;Kuraski et al., 2002). Pedersen (1991) proposed multiculturalismas a major force in counseling. These observations challenge theethnocentric assumptions that the theories, research, and practiceof psychology originating in the West are universal (Cheung,2000).In the assessment of Asian populations, it is inadequate just tofind a translated version of the popular instruments. Althoughmany Western tests have been translated, the quality of the trans-lation and adaptation varies. For example, Fowler (2002) notedduring his visit to India that “many of the assessment instrumentshave been directly translated and adapted from the U.S. andEurope, and there is some doubt as to their adequacy, since most
Fanny M. Cheung, Department of Psychology, The Chinese Universityof Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong; Frederick T. L. Leong, Department of Psychology, Ohio State University; Yossef S. Ben-Porath, Department of Psychology, Kent State University.Frederick T. L. Leong is now at the Department of Psychology, Uni-versity of Tennessee.Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Fanny M.Cheung, Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of HongKong, Shatin, Hong Kong. E-mail: fmcheung@cuhk.edu.hk 
Psychological Assessment Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.2003, Vol. 15, No. 3, 243247 1040-3590/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1040-3590.15.3.243
243
 
of them do not seem to have been standardized for the Indianpopulation
(p. 6). Within India, where psychological assessmenthas increased, Misra, Sahoo, and Puhan (1997) identified majorforms of cultural bias in testing and discussed the need for cultur-ally appropriate tests. In some countries, several translation ver-sions of the same test may be developed without coordination. Forexample, Clark (1985; see also Butcher, Cheung, & Lim, 2003)reported at least 15 translations of the original MMPI in Japan inthe 1980s. Cheung (in press) also found many early translationpractices in Asia to be lacking in quality, and those translatedversions were interpreted under the assumption that they wereequivalent to the original versions. Even with idiographic assess-ment, which is less sensitive to norm-based sources of error thannomothetic assessment, the issues of ecological validity, cross-cultural validity, and generalizability of inferences still remain(Haynes & O
Brien, 2000). Without cross-cultural comparisons,local standardization, and validation studies, it is presumptuous tointerpret test results according to the original tests. The dangers of these practices are obvious but often ignored.Cross-cultural psychologists have recommended guidelines onthe cross-cultural study of personality and assessment (Atkinson etal., 1998; Berry, Poortinga, Segall, & Dasen, 1992; Butcher, 1996;Church & Lonner, 1998; Kurasaki et al., 2002). With greaterattention paid to the quality of translations, cultural relevance,psychometric equivalence, and cross-cultural validity of adaptedinstruments, there has been an improvement in the quality of testing in some Asian countries (Lonner & Berry, 1986; Paunonen& Ashton, 1998). The growth of the profession in these countrieshas also witnessed an increase in psychological research, includingresearch on the use of psychological assessment.There is a dearth of information in the English language liter-ature on the applications of psychological tests on Asian Americanminorities in the United States and much less on the differentAsian populations. Some information on the cross-cultural appli-cations of individual personality tests may be found in editedbooks about specific tests, such as the Minnesota MultiphasicPersonality Inventory
2 (MMPI
2; Butcher, 1996). However,full coverage of the range of psychological assessment in differentAsian countries is rarely reported in journals to which Americanreaders have more easy access. Although there is increasing re-search in Asian countries on psychological assessment, those stud-ies are mostly reported in the native language of the country:Professional communication is often restricted to the local com-munity. Even for psychologists who want to reach out to theinternational community, their level of English proficiency andfamiliarity with the publication process pose major barriers topublications in English language channels. Western journals havelittle interest in publishing articles that focus on the cross-culturalapplications of specific tests alone and are even less interested inindigenous measures from other countries. Only three reviews onpsychological assessment in Asia were found in the Westernpsychological journals: one on India (Barnette, 1955) and two onJapan (Harris & Cronbach, 1947; Tsujioka, 1989).A search was conducted on PsycINFO to identify articles onpsychological assessment with Asian and Asian American samplesin English language scientific journals. We chose the three mostpopular English language journals on psychological assessment:
Psychological Assessment, Assessment, and Journal of Personality Assessment.
We specified
Asian or Asian Americans
or the nameof a list of Asian countries or ethnic groups as the search terms foreach journal. A preliminary list of articles was obtained. Wedivided the time period into three groups: 1971
1980, 1981
1990,and 1991
2000. We also perused the titles and abstracts to deletethose items that were not directly relevant to the specific ethnicgroup, such as the assessment of Korean or Vietnam combatveterans or Native (American) Indians. The actual article was readwhen the information from the abstract was ambiguous. Table 1lists the number of articles identified in these three time periods inthe three assessment journals. Only those articles in which thespecified ethnic group was the focus or was identified as a distinctgroup were included. Therefore, articles in which an ethnic groupwas mentioned only as part of the composition of a larger samplewere not included. As shown from the search results, there are veryfew articles on Asian ethnic groups, even though there has been aslight increase in recent years. Research relevant to clinical assess-ment is even more limited. The following countries or ethnicgroups were not found in the search: Bangladesh, Indonesia,Malaysia, Pakistan, and Singapore. The ethnic group most oftenreported on is Chinese, especially in the past decade. In terms of population, that is the largest ethnic group, with studies reportedTable 1
 Number of Citations in Assessment Journals
Country or ethnic group
 Assessment 
a
 Journal of Personality Assessment Psychological Assessment 
b
1991
2000 1971
1980 1981
1990 1991
2000 1981
1990 1991
2000Chinese (mainland China,Hong Kong, Taiwan) 2 1 1 3 2 10Korea/Korean 0 0 1 1 0 1Japan/Japanese 1
c
3 0 3 0 0Philippines/Filipino 1
c
0 0 0 0 2
c
India 0 4 2
c
1 0 0Thai/Burma 0 0 1
c
0 0 0Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia/ Indo-chinese 0 0 1 0 0 1
c
Asian 1 0 0 4 0 3
ca
First published in 1994.
b
First published in 1989.
c
One article contains more than one ethnic group.
244
CHEUNG, LEONG, AND BEN-PORATH
 
from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The increasednumber of studies also reflects the opening up of China to Westernpsychology.Test users and researchers expect to find the most up-to-dateinformation on the application of assessment with clinical popu-lations in
Psychological Assessment.
With a more global focus onpsychology, a specific section that focuses on the cross-culturalvalidity of psychological assessment in Asian countries would bevaluable to researchers and practitioners. It is with this objectivethat we have invited international scholars who are experts inpsychological assessment in Asia to contribute articles to thisspecial section.
The Special Section
This special section covers the major psychological instrumentsused in clinical assessment in Asian countries, with a focus on EastAsia, where test use is more prevalent. The instruments includecomprehensive personality inventories, measures of specific dis-orders, behavioral measures for children and adolescents, andneuropsychological assessment. Each article reviews, when appro-priate, the methodological issues in cross-cultural adaptations of assessment instruments, the cross-cultural similarities and differ-ences, and the clinical validity of the various instruments. Inaddition to adaptations of Western instruments, the trend of de-veloping indigenously derived psychological measures and suc-cessful examples of those measures are introduced. With themulticultural background of the authors, the reviews cover some of the literature published in native languages. However, we areaware that there is much more information available within indi-vidual countries, such as China, Japan, and India, which we havenot accessed. These reviews are not exhaustive, and the coverageof materials is specified in each article. Furthermore, because weused PsycINFO to identify the relevant literature for our reviews,the coverage in each article was therefore restricted mainly tothose journals that are abstracted by PsycINFO.One of the clinical assessment measures that has been success-fully adapted internationally is the MMPI
2. Butcher et al. (2003)examine the cross-cultural generalizability and utility of compre-hensive personality inventories, with a more detailed review of theadaptation of the Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Lao-tian, and Vietnamese versions of the MMPI
2. The internationaladaptations of the MMPI
2 provide an example of good practice intest translation and adaptation. Butcher et al. identify the problemsin the early history of the translation and adaptation of the MMPI,which mirror some of the general problems of psychologicalassessment still found in different parts of Asia. They also sum-marize information about the cross-cultural equivalence and va-lidity of the MMPI
2, illustrating the program of research thatshould be expected of translated and adapted instruments.Despite the usefulness of comprehensive personality invento-ries, one major barrier in their application is the length of theinstruments. This is particularly problematic in Asia, where theliteracy rate is generally lower, especially among clinical popula-tions. Assessment using self-report paper-and-pencil tests oftenhas to be conducted over two or three separate sessions. Someclinicians prefer to use shorter measures of specific disorders.Leong, Okazaki, and Tak (2003) review the literature on researchwith self-report measures of depression and anxiety in Asia. Theylimit their review to articles published in English language journalsthat assess depression or anxiety in East Asian populations adopt-ing widely used instruments. Two trends are noteworthy. First,research on depression and anxiety in East Asia has relied heavilyon the use of translated instruments, namely, the Beck DepressionInventory (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & Erbaugh, 1961) andthe State
Trait Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lush-ene, 1970), respectively. Second, available research suggests thatthe Asian language versions of these instruments are reliable andvalid for uses with Asian populations. On the basis of their review,Leong et al. also provide a critique of the existing literature as wellsome recommendations for future research. For example, they notethat some subpopulations in East Asia (e.g., Hong Kong) havebeen studied extensively with respect to depression and anxiety butthat there are many regions of Asia (inside and outside East Asia)where little research literature is available except what is publishedin native language journals.Leung and Wong (2003) review the rating scales used forassessing general psychopathology as well as specific emotionaland behavior disorders among children and adolescents. Theyidentify 16 imported measures of self-report and others
ratingsthat are in use in different Asian countries. Whereas some mea-sures are designed specifically for children and adolescents, othermeasures, particularly those on emotional disorders, tend to beextensions of adult versions of self-report scales. Leung and Wonghighlight issues of cross-cultural equivalence that should be takeninto account when adapting imported Western measures. Theseconsiderations demonstrate that accurate translation is not suffi-cient to ensure cross-cultural equivalence. Although there is apaucity of empirical data on these measures, active research witha few imported measures suggests the usefulness of these instru-ments in Asia.Leung and Wong
s (2003) review of an initial attempt in Sin-gapore to develop a parents
rating scale for Asian children illus-trates the important theoretical and methodological considerationsin designing indigenous measures. The weak psychometric prop-erties of the scale and the failure to include culture-specific di-mensions relevant to Asian children raise important issues forindigenous measures. Is there a need to develop indigenous mea-sures if the Asian test users are proficient in English? For countrieslike India and Singapore, where use of English is more wide-spread, there is still room to improve the cultural relevance of measures by including culturally sensitive characteristics or di-mensions that have not been included in universal measures.Including items that are relevant for the local culture and that arerepresentative of the constructs being measured is an importantrequirement for the content validity of the measure. This point isillustrated by the practice of adding culture-specific items to theChild Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991), as reported byLeung and Wong, and in the discussion of the need to developlocal measures in the following two articles on cognitive andneuropsychological assessment and on indigenous measures of personality inventories.A. S. Chan, Shum, and Cheung (2003) review the psychologicalliterature on cognitive and neuropsychological tests that are in usein Asian countries. Like other assessment approaches, cognitiveand neuropsychological assessment in Asia began with direct testtranslation, test adaptation, and then original test construction.A. S. Chan et al. specify a set of criteria for evaluating the adapted
245
SPECIAL SECTION: INTRODUCTION

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