Effects of situational demand in the role-play assessment of assertive behavior

Document Type


Publication Date



Assertive and nonassertive subjects role played responses to interpersonal situations of known response difficulty in which various types of assertions were appropriate to evaluate the interactive effects of demand and difficulty on assertive performance. Subjects responded as they normally would (low demand) and as if they had just finished an extensive assertive training program (high demand). Role-play data, rated for overall assertion, revealed that (a) subjects were more assertive under high than low-demand; (b) assertive performance varied with situational difficulty; and (c) self-reports of assertive ability predicted behavior only when role-play situations were easy or demand low, and high demand had preceded low demand. It was concluded that assertive performance is strongly influenced by situational and cognitive variables, that self-reports predict behavior only in specific assessment circumstances, and that role plays tend to measure maximal, rather than typical, performance. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications concerning the validity of role-play assessment procedures.



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual convention of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Toronto, Canada, November 1981.