Doing a behavioural assessment

What is a behavioural or cognitive assessment?

A behavioural assessment or a cognitive assessment is a collection (or “battery”) of tasks used to measure behaviours or mental (cognitive) abilities. There are different for each study, depending on what is researched. For example, a study on memory will include several memory tasks, or a study on anxiety can include specific questionnaires about anxiety behaviours. There are also standard tasks often included in assessments to control for other things that might impact the results, like a demographics questionnaire with questions about age and socio-economic status, or a standardised IQ task measuring a standard and specific type of intelligence. (You can read more about the importance of controlling for other variables on the Research Methods page, under the heading “control measures”.)

Picture of a boy doing a behavioural assessment with one of our researchers

What happens during a behavioural or cognitive assessment?

At the beginning of the assessment, the researcher will explain to you how the assessment will go, how many tasks and/or questionnaires are involved, and the order in which you will complete them. Before each task or questionnaire, the researcher will give you all the information you need to complete them. All the necessary equipment will be ready for you. If you have questions at any point, please do ask them to the researcher. Except if the researcher tells you otherwise, you will be able to take breaks between each task and/or questionnaire.

Some of the tasks and/or questionnaire may be paper based, other will be in the form of questions asked by the researcher and you will just have to answer out loud. Some activities may be “tangible”, with real objects around you, or they may involve interacting with other people. Some tasks may be computer-based, just like computer games, and you will respond with the keyboard or with special handles. This depends on what is being researched in this particular study.

How to prepare for a behavioural or cognitive assessment?

Except if the researcher tells you otherwise, this is nothing special to do before a behavioural or cognitive assessment. Just come rested and relaxed!