Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 231-232

Behavioral Observation

  • Jennifer L. Stapel-WaxAffiliated withAssociate Professor, Clinical Psychology Program, Argosy University/Atlanta Email author 


Assessment observations; Observations; Test observations


Behavioral observation is a broad term referring to a wide range of formal and informal techniques used by clinicians and researchers to document the behaviors of their clients and subjects. Often the term is used to describe behaviors that are observed during the course of an assessment. It also refers to observations made in other settings such as at home, work or school. Overall, the purpose of behavioral observations is to facilitate an accurate description and understanding of the client [2].


Behavioral observations are building blocks that contribute to the foundation of clinical assessments. Observations are routinely collected as a part of a formal and structured psychological assessment process or as a component of a clinical assessment of behavior. Observations can be collected in numerous ways and in several settings [1, 3, 5].

In the most widely used definition of ...

This is an excerpt from the content