Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Charles D. Spielberger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael D. Coovert, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William P. Sacco, Ph.D.


computer-based assessment, State Trait Personality Inventory, psychological assessment, vital signs, therapy


Due to the increasing demands of third-party payers to show measurable results in a decreased amount of time, mental health practitioners need new tools and techniques to quickly and efficiently assess their client's current status and progress in treatment. The goal of this study was to develop and validate a brief computerized measure of emotional states and personality traits for use as an assessment tool in a clinical setting. Adapted from the State-Trait Personality Inventory (STPI; Spielberger, 1998), the computerized instrument measured state and trait anxiety, anger, depression, and curiosity. The computerized STPI was examined for equivalence with the traditional STPI and compared with therapists' ratings of their clients' emotional states and personality traits. Forty individuals (24 women, 16 men) in psychotherapy were administered either a computerized version of the STPI or the original, paper version. Each client's therapist was asked to rate him or her on the same 4 states and 4 traits measured by the STPI. In addition, clients and therapists answered short questionnaires regarding their reactions to the STPI and the client report generated by the STPI, respectively.

A comparison of mean STPI scale scores between the computerized and paper administration groups showed slightly higher levels of reported state emotion for the computerized administration. There was no other evidence of differences between the two experimental groups. Therapists who had previously conducted assessment with their client demonstrated a significantly higher correlation of their ratings with the corresponding client STPI self-reported scores. Feedback from the client and therapist exit questionnaires suggested that their reactions to the procedure and the usefulness of the STPI were quite favorable. Implications of increasing the use of computers in clinical assessment are discussed.