What is it about?

Question: Is it possible to manipulate and measure how hard a person tries to do well on cognitive testing? Findings: Using a novel experimental paradigm, we were able to manipulate and measure effort on cognitive testing, and show that traditional “effort tests” are not sensitive to individual differences in cognitive effort.

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Why is it important?

Importance: This experimental paradigm could help elucidate the nature, assessment, and impact of individual differences in cognitive effort on neuropsychological testing. Next Steps: Replicating these preliminary findings in independent samples using various cognitive tests will help determine how much variance in cognitive test performance is attributable to effort in persons with no reason or intent to feign impairment.


This publication helps clarify the distinction between performance validity and cognitive effort and can help us more accurately evaluate how much cognitive effort affects cognitive test performance.

Alison Buchholz
Johns Hopkins University

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This page is a summary of: Do “effort tests” really test effort?, Neuropsychology, September 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/neu0000865.
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