Symptom validity testing is a major topic in the field of neuropsychological research, but until now, few studies focus on effort testing in children. Three symptom validity tests (SVTs), the Medical Symptom Validity Test, the Test of Memory Malingering, and the Fifteen Item Test plus several standard neuropsychological tests were administered to 73 German-language school children from 6 to 11 years.
Participants were either instructed to give full effort or to follow a malingering scenario. It could be demonstrated that, except for one child, all participants with a basic reading level of grade 2 were able to pass all administered SVTs according to established cutoffs for poor effort (i.e., earned a score higher than the cutoff). For the experimental malingerers, however, it was fairly difficult to act according to the scenario throughout the session. While they scored worse in the neuropsychological tests, all but one of them failed at least one SVT. The results support the use of SVTs in childhood age. More elaborate experimental designs and studies with bona-fide patients and suspected malingerers are needed in order to evaluate both the appropriateness of available effort tests and the capabilities of children to fake poor performance.