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Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2013;9:123-49. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050212-185617. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Principles underlying the use of multiple informants' reports.

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1
Comprehensive Assessment and Intervention Program, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA. adlr@umd.edu

Abstract

Researchers use multiple informants' reports to assess and examine behavior. However, informants' reports commonly disagree. Informants' reports often disagree in their perceived levels of a behavior ("low" versus "elevated" mood), and examining multiple reports in a single study often results in inconsistent findings. Although researchers often espouse taking a multi-informant assessment approach, they frequently address informant discrepancies using techniques that treat discrepancies as measurement error. Yet, recent work indicates that researchers in a variety of fields often may be unable to justify treating informant discrepancies as measurement error. In this review, the authors advance a framework (Operations Triad Model) outlining general principles for using and interpreting informants' reports. Using the framework, researchers can test whether or not they can extract meaningful information about behavior from discrepancies among multiple informants' reports. The authors provide supportive evidence for this framework and discuss its implications for hypothesis testing, study design, and quantitative review.

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