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Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction: A Theoretical Analysis and a Review of the Evidence
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Meehl's analysis dealt with how all of this information is combined. Should we do it in our heads, or should we use a mechanical decision aid, such as an equation or an actuarial table? He presented a sophisticated analysis of the task and considered conditions that might favor each approach. In one chapter, he reviewed the available empirical data, but this is not the focal point of this monograph.
An article by Grove and Meehl (1996) provides an excellent treatment of objections to mechanical decision aids, with persuasive rebuttals for each, and a meta-analysis by Grove et al (2000) provide a quantitative review of the empirical literature on the subject, including 136 studies that met fairly strict inclusion criteria (in contrast to the 20 studies that were available to Meehl for review in 1954).
Meehl's original conclusion that mechanical decision aids achieve validity rates equal or superior to those of experts exercising their unaided judgment has stood the test of time and is now supported by such a large and diverse array of studies that an impartial reader can reasonably conclude that this "controversy" has been settled.
Paul Meehl asks himself the question what "how can we predict how a person is going to behave?". He distinguishes 2 main approaches: clinical interviews VS statistics (psychometric tests) and discusses the pros and cons of both approaches.
For decades psychologists have been struggling between the use of tests (statistics) and (clinical) interviews. I ran into the problem myself when I did a Whiplash study in 1999 and found that many doctors made clear mistakes during the patient's LAB Profile interviews, to such an extend that the produced data was unreliable for further research! Since then, I reluctantly moved over to the testing side and co-developed the iWAM test (see jobEQ.com), but I recommend complementing tests with structured follow up interviews to check the validity of the test answers.
One of his main points pro testing is that "Every hour a clinician spends in thinking and talking about whom to treat, and how and how long, is being subtracted from the available pool of therapeutic time itself." The main counter argument of a clinician will be that every individual is a separate case and thus becomes hard to find in the numbers.
In global, one can say that Meehl holds a quite impartial point of view and tries to present approaches in a factual manner, trying to bring them together. A slight bias towards testing may be expected, given that Paul Meehl was a professor of Psychology and psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and also wrote a book on the clinical use of MMPI.
Complementary books you may what to read are "Psychological testing" by Kaplan & Saccuzzo (2001) and "How to think straight about psychology" by Stanovich, 2001