Contextual Analysis of Measurement Bias in the Child Behavior Checklist for African American Children
Ngo, Victoria Khanh
This study examined the cultural validity of the Child Behavior Checklist, by employing an Item Response Theory analysis to determine measurement inequivalence in both the items and scales for 1st grade African-American versus Euro-American children. Specifically, the Differential Functioning of Items and Tests (DFIT) Framework was used to conduct secondary analysis on Fast Track data to assess measurement bias. Contextual factors, such as family socio-economic status, neighborhood disadvantage, perception of neighborhood qualities, family expressivity, parenting practices, and values, were regressed on person-level bias (PDIF) for DIF items found in the CBCL scales to determine the ecological elements that may underlie measurement bias. As predicted this study found that: (a) measurement bias exists on the CBCL instrument, (b) bias in part, is significantly accounted by contextual factors. Regression models of parenting practices showed the strongest prediction of PDIF, with punitive discipline approaches, uniquely explaining the greatest variability in the bias found in the CBCL scale. Our findings show (a) cultural variability in the interpretation and expression of psychopathology for young children, (b) how the unique context of African American families may result in different conceptualizations of what behaviors are considered problematic. The results from this study have implications for future improvement of psychological assessments and appropriate placement and treatment of African-American children as well as other ethnic minorities.