A diffusion model explanation of the worst performance rule for reaction time and IQ

Intelligence. 2008;36(1):10-17. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2006.12.002.


The worst performance rule for cognitive tasks [Coyle, T.R. (2003). IQ, the worst performance rule, and Spearman's law: A reanalysis and extension. Intelligence, 31, 567-587] in which reaction time is measured is the result that IQ scores correlate better with longer (i.e., 0.7 and 0.9 quantile) reaction times than shorter (i.e., 0.1 and 0.3 quantile) reaction times. We show that this pattern of correlations can be predicted by the diffusion model [Ratcliff, R. (1978). A theory of memory retrieval. Psychological Review, 85, 59-108], in two ways: either assuming that the rate of accumulation of information toward a decision is higher for higher IQ subjects or assuming that the criterial amounts of information they require before a decision are lower. Importantly, the model explains both reaction times and accuracy, so the two possibilities can be distinguished.