The Reliability and Validity of a Self-Report Measure of Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults: More Personality than Cognitive Function

J Intell. 2017 Dec 26;6(1):1. doi: 10.3390/jintelligence6010001.


The development of brief, reliable and valid self-report measures of cognitive abilities would facilitate research in areas including cognitive ageing. This is due to both practical and economic limitations of formal cognitive testing procedures. This study examined the reliability and validity of the newly developed Self-Report Measure of Cognitive Abilities (SRMCA; Jacobs & Roodenburg, 2014); a multi-item self-report tool designed to assess cognitive function in the ability areas of fluid reasoning (Gf), comprehension-knowledge (Gc) and visual processing (Gv). Participants were (n = 93) cognitively healthy older adults aged between 52 and 82 years who completed the SRMCA, the Big Five Inventory and a battery of cognitive tasks. Results revealed adequate reliability for the SRMCA and convergent validity for the Gc domain but not for Gf or Gv. Moreover, significant personality bias was evident with Extraversion (positively), Openness to Experience (positively) and Neuroticism (negatively) predicting SRMCA responses independently of actual cognitive performance. Thus, although the SRMCA appears to be reliable in older adults, personality was a stronger predictor of self-estimated cognitive abilities than actual cognitive performance, questioning the utility of this tool as a subjective measure of cognitive ability.

Keywords: cognitive ageing; cognitive function; personality; scale development; self-report.