The Role of Psychometrics in Individual Differences Research in Cognition: A Case Study of the AX-CPT

Front Psychol. 2017 Sep 4;8:1482. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01482. eCollection 2017.

Abstract

Investigating individual differences in cognition requires addressing questions not often thought about in standard experimental designs, especially regarding the psychometric properties of the task. Using the AX-CPT cognitive control task as a case study example, we address four concerns that one may encounter when researching the topic of individual differences in cognition. First, we demonstrate the importance of variability in task scores, which in turn directly impacts reliability, particularly when comparing correlations in different populations. Second, we demonstrate the importance of variability and reliability for evaluating potential failures to replicate predicted correlations, even within the same population. Third, we demonstrate how researchers can turn to evaluating psychometric properties as a way of evaluating the feasibility of utilizing the task in new settings (e.g., online administration). Lastly, we show how the examination of psychometric properties can help researchers make informed decisions when designing a study, such as determining the appropriate number of trials for a task.

Keywords: AX-CPT; psychometrics; reliability; replication; task design; variability.