Journal of Pediatric Neuropsychology

, Volume 4, Issue 3–4, pp 86–92 | Cite as

Automatized Sequences as a Performance Validity Test? Difficult If You Have Never Learned Your ABCs

  • Allyson G. Harrison
  • Irene Armstrong


Accurate identification of symptom exaggeration is essential when determining whether or not data obtained in pediatric evaluations are valid or interpretable. Apart from using freestanding performance validity tests (PVTs), many researchers encourage use of embedded measures of test-related motivation, including the newly developed automatized sequences test (AST). Such embedded measures are based on identification of performance patterns that are implausible if the test taker is investing full effort; however, it is unclear whether or not persons with pre-existing cognitive difficulties such as specific learning disabilities (SLD) might be falsely accused of poor test motivation due to actual but impaired learning of basic sequences. This study examined the specificity of the AST by reviewing performance of 83 SLD adolescents. Anywhere from 22 to 41% of SLD adolescents investing good effort failed one or more of the tasks included in the AST, and those with lower intelligence scores had higher rates of failure. Clinicians should therefore be cautious if using this PVT with individuals who have a documented history of reading, learning, or intellectual problems.


Assessment Effort testing Performance validity Embedded measures Automatized sequences Adolescents 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Right

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology 2018
corrected publication 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Regional Assessment and Resource CenterQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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