Sources of bias in the Goodman-Kruskal gamma coefficient measure of association: implications for studies of metacognitive processes

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2009 Mar;35(2):509-27. doi: 10.1037/a0014876.


In many cognitive, metacognitive, and perceptual tasks, measurement of performance or prediction accuracy may be influenced by response bias. Signal detection theory provides a means of assessing discrimination accuracy independent of such bias, but its application crucially depends on distributional assumptions. The Goodman-Kruskal gamma coefficient, G, has been proposed as an alternative means of measuring accuracy that is free of distributional assumptions. This measure is widely used with tasks that assess metamemory or metacognition performance. The authors demonstrate that the empirically determined value of G systematically deviates from its actual value under realistic conditions. A distribution-specific variant of G, called G-sub(c), is introduced to show why this bias arises. The findings imply that caution is needed when using G as a measure of accuracy, and alternative measures are recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Association*
  • Bias
  • Culture
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Decision Making
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Paired-Associate Learning
  • Psychometrics
  • ROC Curve
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Detection, Psychological