PhD Thesis by Susan Hart: Psychometric Properties of the Emotional Development Scale

PhD Thesis by Susan Hart: Psychometric Properties of the Emotional Development Scale

Due to emotional difficulties, a growing number of children are referred to regional educational-psychological advisory services and child psychiatric services with mental problems related to emotional vulnerabilities. The neuroaffective developmental psychology framework is a way of understanding children's normal emotional development and of examining how this development may be promoted or disturbed by relational issues. Within this theoretical framework, the researcher has developed a measurement tool to assess the current emotional functioning level of 4–12-year-olds.

Last modified: 25.10.2018

Susan Hart: Psychometric Properties of the Emotional Development Scale. Investigating Reliability and Validity Including Correlations with The Marschak Interaction Method and The Neuroaffective Mentalizing Interview

The practice of assessing children’s emotional development based on a theoretical foundation of attachment theory, developmental psychology and trauma and brain research is fast developing within the field of clinical psychology. Within this theoretical framework, the Emotional Development Scale (EDS), has been developed as a measurement tool designed to assess the current emotional functioning level of 4–12-year-olds. The EDS consists of two scales: EDS-Performance (EDS-P) and EDS-Assessment (EDS-A).

The main focus of the dissertation is to investigate the reliability and validity of the EDS-P and the EDS-A as a basis for elaborating structured and specific intervention plans and measuring the effect of an intervention. The research study is based on a fixed design using quantitative data and statistical analysis aimed at investigating the psychometric properties of the EDS. The research design incorporates post-positivist scientific methods, and the underlying attitude behind the study is informed by pragmatism.

The empirical study is based on a correlational study of the EDS-P, focusing on interrater reliability, test-retest, internal consistency, concurrent, predictive and construct validity and of the EDS-A, focusing on internal validity and on the internal validity of the EDS-P and EDS-A together. The study of concurrent validity focuses on an analysis between non-referred and referred groups based on the data from the empirical study and a preliminary ad hoc sample from Hogrefe Ltd. (n=213). The predictive validity investigates the progression between the levels of mental organization. The construct validity correlates the EDS with two other newly developed assessment tools measuring the intersubjectivity between child and caregiver and the caregiver’s mentalizing capacity, and with two evidence-based standardized questionnaires. The validity study concerns both the EDS-P and EDS-A.

Subjects in the study are 36 children aged 4–12-years, each along with one parent, who have been referred to a day-family-treatment centre. Included in the study are eight day-family-treatment centres from various parts of Denmark, each of which has a minimum of two psychologists assigned to handle the uptake. Eighteen psychologists in total participate in the experimental design.

The empirical study together with the preliminary ad hoc sample from Hogrefe Ltd. found that the EDS-P is a consistent, reliable and valid measure of 4–12-year-olds’ emotional development. The internal consistency between the two scales, the EDS-P and the EDS-A, showed that the scales cannot be merged into one scale, and the validity study showed that it is uncertain what the EDS-A measures. The concurrent validity of both the two scales, the EDS-P and EDS-A, demonstrated the measurement tool’s ability to distinguish between age groups and referred/non-referred groups, and  the predictive validity of the progression showed promising results on the EDS-P. In the study of construct validity, the results indicated a connection between the child’s emotional development, the parent’s mentalizing capacity and the parent-child interaction, although the results were not as straightforward as expected.

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About Susan Hart