Fitting wald and ex-Wald distributions to response time data: an example using functions for the S-PLUS package

Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 2004 Nov;36(4):678-94. doi: 10.3758/bf03206550.


Schwarz (2001, 2002) proposed the ex-Wald distribution, obtained from the convolution of Wald and exponential random variables, as a model of simple and go/no-go response time. This article provides functions for the S-PLUS package that produce maximum likelihood estimates of the parameters for the ex-Wald, as well as for the shifted Wald and ex-Gaussian, distributions. In a Monte Carlo study, the efficiency and bias of parameter estimates were examined. Results indicated that samples of at least 400 are necessary to obtain adequate estimates of the ex-Wald and that, for some parameter ranges, much larger samples may be required. For shifted Wald estimation, smaller samples of around 100 were adequate, at least when fits identified by the software as having ill-conditioned maximums were excluded. The use of all functions is illustrated using data from Schwarz (2001). The S-PLUS functions and Schwarz's data may be downloaded from the Psychonomic Society's Web archive, www.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Reaction Time*