Social Competence and the Rorschach Comprehensive Systems Coping Deficit Index: a Validity Study with Children and Adolescents

Corliss, Bethany A., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Lawrence, Edith, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Blodgett, Julia, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Loper, Ann, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Moon, Tonya, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Social competence is thought to be a central aspect of children and adolescents' social-emotional functioning and, as such, is commonly assessed using a variety of techniques including both projective and objective approaches. Although the Rorschach Comprehensive System (RCS) is arguably the most widely used and empirically tested projective assessment system (Exner, l993a), its index of social functioning, the Coping Deficit Index (CDI), has received little empirical attention and, as such, has not been adequately validated for use with clinically-referred populations of children and adolescents (Meyer & Archer, 2001). This study sought to validate the CDI as a measure of social competence in children and adolescents.

Participants were 197 children and adolescents (ages 5-18 years old) referred to a university-based clinic for a comprehensive psychological evaluation. A multi-trait, multi-method (MTMM) analysis was conducted comparing CDI scores to previously-validated objective measures of social competence and internalizing behaviors. These analyses were conducted on both the original sample and a modified sample of examinees with low levels of defensiveness. Both analyses revealed that the CDI did not demonstrate adequate convergent validity for use in social competence assessment. The CDI did demonstrate adequate discriminate validity but this may have been due to its overall lack of correlation with the behavior rating scales. The results revealed evidence that method variance might have undermined trait variance. In addition, the factor structure of the CD] as proposed by Exner (l993a) was tested using a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). However, goodness of fit statistics on the CDI revealed a poor fit between this data and the proposed model. Exploratory analyses ensued to further examine the individual variables that comprise the CDI and hypotheses are offered to inform future research on this elusive index. The advantages and disadvantages of using objective measures to validate projective measures are discussed.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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