Barry Bricklin, Ph.D.

A Research-Based Custody Test Which Measures A Child's
Perceptions Of Each Parent in Four Critical Areas: Competency,
Supportiveness, Consistency, And Admirable Traits. Age 6 and up.

The Test
BPS Development
Validity Data
BPS Computer Scoring Profile
BPS Comprehensive Starting Kit

The Test

The BPS is made up of 64 cards, each about the size of a business envelope (3.5" by 8.5"). On one side of every card is a horizontal line. It is aligned with a scoring grid on the other side. The child sees only the lines; the examiner sees the test questions and the scoring grids. Each card is placed in a cardboard box on a piece of styrofoam, with the horizontal line facing up. In response to a question, the child punches a hole through the line using a stylus-pen. 

Example: "If you had to memorize a long, boring poem for school, how well would Mom do at being patient enough to help you learn this?" (Some examiners like to record the child's verbal response.)

"If this is Mom doing very well at being patient (the examiner points to the Very Well end of the line) and this is Mom doing not so well at being patient (the examiner points to the Not So Well end of the line) where on this line would Mom be?" The Child responds non-verbally, by punching a hole.

Thirty-two cards later the identical question appears, this time about Dad.

All of the information needed to administer and score the test is provided on the examiner sides of the cards.

Testing Time:30 to 35 minutes the first few times given, eventually working down to about 20 to 25 minutes.

Scoring:The BPS scoring sheet groups the test questions in four main areas, measuring the child's perceptions of each parent's ability to be: (1) a good role model for the skills of competency; (2) a source of warmth and empathy; (3) consistent; (4) a role model for other admirable traits. (Scoring time: by hand - 10 minutes; by computer - 2 minutes.)

Age Scope:All Children 6 years of age and up grasp BPS instructions quite easily. Hence, we suggest age 6 as the "bottom-line" age for reliable and valid use.

However, we have used the test effectively with children as young as 4. The critical factor is whether or not the instructions are understood.

BPS Development

The BPS is designed for use either in highly adversarial situations (which unfortunately, are still frequent), or more ideally, to assist in forging win-win scenarios for parents and involved children in less adversarial circumstances. 

In highly adversarial cases, the test can be used to establish a data-chosen, research-supported primary caretaking parent (PCP).

In the other more fortunate situation, the test is explained to all involved parties (parents, judges, attorneys, etc.) as ideal to assist in custody decisions. Not only is it objective, based as it is on true research findings, but actually able to point the way to an arrangement whre the child will have access to the very "best" each parent has to offer.

Validity Data

The validation process has been going on for more than 25 years; several hundred cases have been studied in various ways. Many are described in the manual.  1. The agreement rate between the questionnaire which elicited unconscious material and BPS designations was 87 percent. The rate for the questionnaire or interview material which elicited conscious choices was 70 percent. The parent interviews agreed with BPS scored as follows: 76 percent agreement for Mothers, 88 percent agreement for Fathers (nonadversary cases).

2. Two independent mental health professionals who had no knowledge of the BPS scores studied between 2 and 7 years of clinical and life history data for a group of children, and each independently arrived at an opinion as to who, mother or father, would make the optimal PCP. Leaving aside one case on which the professionals disagreed with each other, there was 100 percent agreement between the remaining cases and the BPS designations. Further, the BPS scores showed that the magnitude of the BPS score was highly related to the expressed certainty that a particular parent was indeed "best" in the eyes of the professionals. Details are given in the manual.

3. BPS designations achieved a very satisfying 94 percent agreement rate with judges' choices in courtroom settings (29 cases in the original phase of the research; this number has stayed near 90 percent on several hundred more cases since then).

4. Twenty-seven (27) respondents, current BPS users, offered data on 141 cases (during the late months of 1987 and early 1988). One question asked about the agreement rate between the parent selected by the BPS as better able to be the PCP and the choice arrived at by a judge in a formal hearing. The agreement rate reported was 89 percent. Another question asked the agreement rate between the choice arrived at by the psychologists' interpretations of the other psychological tests and the BPS. The rate was again 89 percent. The agreement rate between BPS choices and the psychologists' interpretations of clincal/life history data was 91 percent. The final question asked about the agreement rate between the PCP selected by the BPS and the psychologists' choices as arrived at based on all information available (tests, clincial and/or life history data plus any other data). The agreement rate was 97 percent.

[Report ONE]   [Report TWO]

BPS CSP BPS COMPUTER SCORING PROFILE (unlimited use) (BPS-CSP) VP101-CSP. 7 page visual interpretation with graphs, pie charts, etc. Saves, retrieves, prints. For Windows.

Bricklin Perceptual Scales
BPS Comprehensive Starting Kit 


  • Revised BPS Test Manual
  • Response Cards (64 cards per set)
  • Scoring Summaries
  • Stylus-Pen
  • Placement dots
  • Test box with foam insert
  • Instructions/Updates
  • Author Contact Number
  • Three years Update Service 
Additional BPS Response Cards
(Includes Response Cards, Scoring Summaries, extra foam insert, extra pen, Updates.)


Since publication in 1983 the BPS has become the premier custody evaluation test in use today. It has been administered more than 150,000 times--used in all 50 states--and accepted and relied upon by courts throughout the United States.

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