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Using Response Times to Measure Ability on a Cognitive Task

Aleksandr Alekseev ()

Working Papers from Chapman University, Economic Science Institute

Abstract: I show how using response times as a proxy for effort coupled with an explicit process-based model can address a long-standing issue of how to separate the effect of cognitive ability on performance from the effect of motivation. My method is based on a dynamic stochastic model of optimal effort choice in which ability and motivation are the structural parameters. I show how to estimate these parameters from the data on outcomes and response times in a cognitive task. In a laboratory experiment, I find that performance on a Digit-Symbol test is a noisy and biased measure of cognitive ability. Ranking subjects by their performance leads to an incorrect ranking by their ability in a substantial number of cases. These results suggest that interpreting performance on a cognitive task as ability may be misleading.

Keywords: cognitive ability; test scores; response times; drift-diffusion model; choice-process data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C24 C41 C91 D91 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp, nep-hrm and nep-neu
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https://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/esi_working_papers/254/

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Journal Article: Using response times to measure ability on a cognitive task (2019) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:chu:wpaper:18-16

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