What are cross-cultural cognitive test norms?

Psychologists are often required to assess the neuropsychological and/or cognitive functioning of clients, particularly after they have had suffered brain-related illness or injury, or if it is suspected that the brain has not developed in expected ways. An important part of carrying out such as assessment requires making use of cognitive assessment tools.

The psychological tests used for neuropsychological, intellectual and emotional assessment are often developed in countries such as the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK). However, such cognitive assessment tools have limited use in cross-cultural, multi-lingual contexts as found in countries in Africa but also many other countries.

Increasingly, psychologists are expected to have competence in cross-cultural testing, including in multilingual cross-cultural neuropsychological assessments because clients are often multilingual and/or speak languages other than the English language in which many tests are developed. Part of having competence in cross-cultural cognitive assessment is the understanding of the need for cross-cultural cognitive tests norms against which a client’s test scores can be compared. However, access to such  cross-cultural cognitive tests norms is limited, highlighting the need for a multilingual cross-cultural cognitive assessments book in which suitable cross-cultural normative data can be found.

Cross-cultural testing entails the use of standardised testing (and sometimes non-standardised testing) of cognitive constructs in those who are culturally diverse and linguistically different from the people for which the tests were developed and on which the tests were standardised.

In relation to cross-cultural testing, there are four primary issues in which psychologists should be well-versed:

  • The linguistic expectations and cultural loading of standardised ability testing.
  • Norm-referenced measures are set to assess an individual’s performance in relation to others.
  • The impact of cultural variations on test abilities.
  • The cross-cultural dynamics involving examiner-examinee, such as racial differences and its impact on testing.

How does bias affect cross-cultural testing?

Bias can affect cross-cultural testing in several ways. Test questions may be more challenging to decipher, particularly for those from culturally diverse backgrounds, due to differences in their cultural knowledge or unawareness of the concepts being evaluated or unfamiliarity with words used. This is an example of a bias that does not represent a true reflection of the test-taker's knowledge, impairing the validity of the evaluation.

New, well-constructed tests of cognitive ability and intelligence are rarely formed based on bias but still remain discriminatory for a few reasons. For example, tests produced by the USA will be embedded with mainstream concepts and content that reflect the values of the USA. Furthermore, the test taker's knowledge of these concepts will depend on the familiarity of these values and the duration of time spent being exposed to the languages and culture of the specific place.

What does the "Cross-Cultural Cognitive Test Norms: An Advanced Collation from Africa" book explore?

The book, "Cross-Cultural Cognitive Test Norms: An Advanced Collation from Africa," written by Ann B. Shuttleworth-Edwards and Sharon Truter, delve into the clinical and research challenges regarding cross-cultural evaluation, but also offer solutions. This cross-cultural cognitive tests book is user-friendly, providing step-by-step guidelines on understanding cross-cultural cognitive test norms and their application in culturally diverse contexts.


  1. Who will benefit from a cross-cultural neuropsychology book?
    The book “Cross-cultural Cognitive Test Norms” by Ann B. Shuttleworth-Edwards and Sharon Truter is aimed at specialists in the field for those who engage with clients from culturally diverse backgrounds or those engaged in the study of cross-cultural testing.
  2. What does a neuropsychological assessment book attempt to reveal?
    A neuropsychological assessment book offers cross-cultural cognitive normative data for the purposes of cross-cultural cognitive assessment.
  3. What does cross-cultural neuropsychology encourage?
    Cross-cultural neuropsychology details impact of  educational, cultural, linguistic and other factors on neuropsychological assessments across several cognitive areas.
  4. How can the “Cross-cultural Cognitive Test Norms: An Advanced Collation from Africa” book assist with multilingual cross-cultural neuropsychological cognitive assessments?
    The use of this cross-cultural cognitive norms book can assist with multilingual cross-cultural neuropsychological cognitive assessments by providing step-by step guidelines in cross-cultural assessment and by providing cross-cultural normative data stratified not only for age but also language and level and quality of education.