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WAIS-IV Clinical Use and Interpretation

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Larry Weiss, Don Saklofske, Diane Coalson, Susan Raiford

The WAIS-IV represents the latest addition to David Wechsler's legacy of outstanding intelligence measures. Although the tests require periodic revision to meet the changing needs of the field, the foundations of the test remain prominent and steadfast. It is a great privilege both to be entrusted with a revision of a Wechsler scale, as was the case for Diane and Susie who served as WAIS-IV co-principal directors, and for the four of us to produce a book that will further inform researchers and clinicians on the use and interpretation of the WAIS-IV.

The strength of the Wechsler legacy allowed the development team to focus on the scale's future. The team's foremost thoughts were directed at better meeting the needs of scientists and practitioners today and in the next decade. The issues were numerous and complex, demanding close attention to such issues as reliability, validity, and clinical utility, as well as the more practical aspects of test development, including user-friendliness, component design, and the time-constraining realities of managed care.

Surpassing all of these concerns was a responsibility to the individual taking the test. Improvements to instructions and teaching ensure that all examinees begin each task with a similar and adequate understanding of the task demands. Additional attention to possible visual and auditory acuity problems of examinees resulted in modifications to test stimuli. A series of reviews by experts in cultural differences and international development teams targeted the goal of increased sensitivity to individual differences in test performance. Consideration of demographic shifts and the aging population was represented by an expert evaluation of common medications that may affect test performance, and ongoing evaluation of age differences in performance. The scale's development was characterized by the thoughtful consideration and extensive discussion of these and many other issues.

While it is a distinct privilege to be entrusted with a Wechsler revision, the responsibility it brings demands a constant remembrance of the impact that the scores can have on an individual's life. Diane and Susie were fortunate to have ready access to an outstanding array of colleagues and experts who embraced this welcomed responsibility. A panel of renowned experts from a variety of psychological fields was convened as an initial step in the development process. This panel provided ongoing advice and guidance throughout the WAIS-IV development, as well as for the simultaneous development of the WMS-IV. Many of these panel members continue their invaluable contributions as chapter authors for this book. The 4-year development program was most marked by the active engagement and dedication of all those involved: the development team, the advisory panel, numerous experts, hundreds of examiners, and thousands of examinees. We cannot express how grateful we are to all of those who touched the revision.

This text is designed to complement and extend the information contained within the manuals, allowing for a more clinically rich interpretation of an individual's WAIS-IV performance. The introductory chapter provides an overview of the scale's historical and contemporary foundations, and concludes with a description of the WAIS-IV content and structure. Chapter 2 includes practical administration and scoring information, from the unique perspective of the test's developers. Common administration and scoring errors are highlighted, as well as a reference for frequently asked questions. Additional chapters focus on important topics related to WAIS-IV interpretation that allow for a richer evaluation of test results. Two of these chapters describe interpretive challenges common to all measures of cognitive ability: cultural considerations and evaluation of the Flynn effect. An analysis of the WAIS-IV in relation to its use in neuropsychology and with individuals across the age span or who are affected by various psychopathology disorders are presented in chapters by leading experts in the field. Additional chapters cover topics that are more specific to WAIS-IV interpretation, including use of the WAIS-IV with the WMS-IV, and with special populations

The editors would like to thank Pearson for support of this project and permission to use the WAIS-IV standardization data and manual content for portions of this book. Nikki Levy, publisher at Academic Press, provided encouragement and direction to the editors throughout this project. As with our other Wechsler books, her efforts played an integral part in this volume's completion. Our sincere appreciation also goes to Senior Developmental Editor Barbara Makinster and Senior Project Manager Paul Gottehrer for their assistance in preparing the final manuscript for publication. Dr Alan Kaufman wrote a most informed foreword; it is his long relationship with Dr Wechsler that makes this preface even more relevant and personal. To all of our authors, many of whom served on the WAIS-IV and WMS-IV Advisory Panel, your valuable contributions to the understanding and assessment of intelligence continue even beyond the publication of the WAIS-IV.




Advances in the Assessment of Intelligence

Diane L. Coalson ¹ , Susan Engi Raiford ¹ , Donald H. Saklofske ² , Lawrence G. Weiss ¹

1 Pearson Assessment, San Antonio, Texas, USA

2 Division of Applied Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV; Wechsler, 2008a) reflects the culmination of over 70 years of progressive revisions to the Wechsler line of adult intelligence measures. It is ironic that the very mention of historical foundations of the Wechsler scales contributes to the misperception that the scales are outdated. In fact, Wechsler's foresight in defining intelligence in practical terms has allowed the very flexibility needed for ongoing revisions to his intelligence scales in light of advances in theory, research, and the measurement of intelligence. The most recent editions of the Wechsler intelligence scales have involved dramatic changes based on burgeoning research advances in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and contemporary intelligence theory, as well as increasing sophistication in psychological measurement. Despite these substantial innovations, some critics perpetuate the myth that the Wechsler intelligence scales are outdated or atheoretical (Kamphaus, 1993; Shaw, Swerdlik, & Laurent, 1993; Flanagan & Kaufman, 2004). We respectfully disagree and, for this reason, elaborate somewhat on Wechsler's views about intelligence and the progressive adaptations to his intelligence scales in light of contemporary theory and research. We are hopeful that the historical references, often from Wechsler's own writings, will help to clarify the theoretical foundations of the Wechsler intelligence scales, in Wechsler's time and in