The management of 'don't know' responses on the WAIS-III : a conversation analytic study
Clinical psychologists, who work with adults with learning disabilities, regularly use standardised assessments. One assessment commonly used by clinical psychologists is the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scales - version three (WAIS-III) to obtain intelligence quotient (IQ) scores. For someone with a learning disability these scores have significant consequences for service access and provision, as well as having a major impact upon social and financial dimensions to the person's life. Such consequences can vary widely even if the IQ score varies only by a few points. The researcher was interested in exploring ways that these scores may be affected within the assessment situation an din particular, how the interviewer may impact upon the interviewee's performance. A review of the literature revealed that most research had been conducted from a realist epistemological stance and had focused upon how to improve the standardised administration of assessments. Limited research from the social constructionist literature, had investigated how assessment interaction is constructed through the talk of the participants, but there had been no such research conducted on the WAIS-III.;This study set out to investigate the interactions between clinical psychologists and adults with a learning disability, when assessed using the WAIS-III. Talk between the participants was analysed using conversation analysis, to see how the interaction was constructed and managed through the talk. The analysis focused upon the use by the interviewee of 'don't know', I don't know' and ' dunno' in response to requests for information. From the analysis it was heard that they were made as statements of competence, although how these statements were oriented to and managed within the structure of the interaction was heard to vary. The implications of this for the use of the WAIS-III with adults with learning disabilities and for clinical psychology are discussed. There is also a critique of the present study and discussion of potential areas of future research.