The Impact of Careless and Random Responding on Juvenile Forensic Assessment: Susceptibility of Commonly Used Measures and Implications for Research and Practice

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Date of Original Version



Forensic assessment experts and practice guidelines strongly endorse appraisal of response styles that can distort psychological assessment results and lead to serious interpretive errors, including careless and random responding (C/RR). Little attention has been directed to the implications of C/RR for juvenile forensic mental health assessment. To address this gap in the literature, we reviewed frequently used measures in juvenile forensic assessment. We found that many such measures do not include built-in checks for detecting C/RR. We then conducted simulation studies examining two frequently used measures, one without a built-in check for C/RR and one with such a scale: the Youth Self-Report (YSR) and the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI), respectively. Results indicated that random responding substantially influenced scores on the YSR, raising most scales well above normative levels, yet often producing protocols that seemed genuine. On the MACI, random responding was undetected 25% of the time and another 50% of the time appears to yield computer-based reports that do not explicitly reject the test results as invalid. Taken together, these simulations suggest that randomly generated assessment protocols may often be mistaken for genuine results. Implications for both practitioners and applied researchers involved in juvenile forensic assessment are discussed.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice