The use of observational tools in psychological assessment has decreased in recent years, mainly due to its personnel and time costs, and researchers have not explored methodological innovations like adaptive algorithms in observational assessment. In the present study, we introduce the behavior-driven observation procedure to develop, test, and implement observational adaptive instruments. In Study 1, we use a preexisting observational checklist to evaluate nonverbal behaviors related to psychotic symptoms and to specify the adaptive algorithm’s model. We fit the model to observational data collected from 114 participants. The results support the model’s goodness of fit. In Study 2, we use the estimated model parameters to calibrate the adaptive procedure and test the algorithm for accuracy and efficiency in adaptively reconstructing 58 nonadaptively collected response patterns. The results show the algorithm’s good accuracy and efficiency, with a 40% average reduction in the number of administered items. In Study 3, we used real raters to test the adaptive checklist built with behavior-driven observation. The results indicate adequate intrarater agreement and good consistency of the observed response patterns. In conclusion, the results support the possibility of using behavior-driven observation to create accurate and affordable (in terms of resources) observational assessment tools.
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