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Symptom Validity Testing for the detection of simulated amnesia: Not robust to coaching

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Symptom Validity Testing (SVT) has been proposed as a method to assess the veracity of claims of amnesia. Performance below chance levels on a forced choice task is indicative of malingering. Previous research has shown that the Symptom Validity Test is a promising challenge test: at levels of high specificity, it may detect approximately half of those who malinger. The present study investigated the effect of coaching on the sensitivity of the Symptom Validity Test. Participants were instructed to feign complete amnesia and tested about their identity using the Symptom Validity Test. Half of the participants were coached not to perform below chance levels. Results were straightforward: 58% of 19 naive malingerers were detected, but none of 19 coached malingerers were detected. The results show that the Symptom Validity Test is not resistant to coaching.

Keywords: Symptom Validity Test; amnesia; coaching; validity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium 2: Department of Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2008


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