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. 1996 Apr;104 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):247-73.
doi: 10.1289/ehp.96104s2247.

Performance Tests

Free PMC article

Performance Tests

A Wetherell. Environ Health Perspect. .
Free PMC article


This paper discusses the use of psychological performance tests to assess the effects of environmental stressors. The large number and the variety of performance tests are illustrated, and the differences between performance tests and other psychological tests are described in terms of their design, construction, use, and purpose. The stressor emphasis is on the effects of drugs since that is where most performance tests have found their main application, although other stressors, e.g., fatigue, toxic chemicals, are mentioned where appropriate. Diazepam is used as an example. There is no particular performance emphasis since the tests are intended to have wide applicability. However, vehicle-driving performance is discussed because it has been the subject of a great deal of research and is probably one of the most important areas of application. Performance tests are discussed in terms of the four main underlying models--factor analysis, general information processing, multiple resource and strategy models, and processing-stage models--and in terms of their psychometric properties--sensitivity, reliability, and content, criterion, construct, and face validity. Some test taxonomies are presented. Standardization is also discussed with reference to the reaction time, mathematical processing, memory search, spatial processing, unstable tracking, verbal processing, and dual task tests used in the AGARD STRES battery. Some comments on measurement strengths and appropriate study designs and methods are included.

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