Administering the digit span subtest of the WISC-III to children with attentional, emotional, and learning difficulties: Should the examiner make eye contact or not?

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This study examined the impact of eye contact versus no eye contact during the administration of the Digit Span subtest of the third edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III) to a clinical population of children. Forty-three children, ranging in age from 6 to 16 years, participated in the study, representing a range of attentional, emotional, and learning diagnoses. Participants were administered the Digit Span subtest once with and once without the examiner offering eye contact, in counterbalanced order. Results indicated that respondents generally avoided making eye contact with the examiner, even during the eye contact condition, suggesting that eye contact is at least not preferred during recall of Digit Span numbers. Performance was not impacted by the eye contact behavior of the examiner as respondents generally avoided eye contact. Implications for examiner eye contact behavior during administration of the Digit Span to a clinical population of children are discussed.


Originally published in Assessment, 2, 305-310 (1995).