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Do Attentional Lapses Account for the Worst Performance Rule?


Löffler, Christoph; Frischkorn, Gidon T; Rummel, Jan; Hagemann, Dirk; Schubert, Anna-Lena (2021). Do Attentional Lapses Account for the Worst Performance Rule? Journal of Intelligence, 10:2.

Abstract

The worst performance rule (WPR) describes the phenomenon that individuals’ slowest responses in a task are often more predictive of their intelligence than their fastest or average responses. To explain this phenomenon, it was previously suggested that occasional lapses of attention during task completion might be associated with particularly slow reaction times. Because less intelligent individuals should experience lapses of attention more frequently, reaction time distribution should be more heavily skewed for them than for more intelligent people. Consequently, the correlation between intelligence and reaction times should increase from the lowest to the highest quantile of the response time distribution. This attentional lapses account has some intuitive appeal, but has not yet been tested empirically. Using a hierarchical modeling approach, we investigated whether the WPR pattern would disappear when including different behavioral, self-report, and neural measurements of attentional lapses as predictors. In a sample of N = 85, we found that attentional lapses accounted for the WPR, but effect sizes of single covariates were mostly small to very small. We replicated these results in a reanalysis of a much larger previously published data set. Our findings render empirical support to the attentional lapses account of the WPR.

Abstract

The worst performance rule (WPR) describes the phenomenon that individuals’ slowest responses in a task are often more predictive of their intelligence than their fastest or average responses. To explain this phenomenon, it was previously suggested that occasional lapses of attention during task completion might be associated with particularly slow reaction times. Because less intelligent individuals should experience lapses of attention more frequently, reaction time distribution should be more heavily skewed for them than for more intelligent people. Consequently, the correlation between intelligence and reaction times should increase from the lowest to the highest quantile of the response time distribution. This attentional lapses account has some intuitive appeal, but has not yet been tested empirically. Using a hierarchical modeling approach, we investigated whether the WPR pattern would disappear when including different behavioral, self-report, and neural measurements of attentional lapses as predictors. In a sample of N = 85, we found that attentional lapses accounted for the WPR, but effect sizes of single covariates were mostly small to very small. We replicated these results in a reanalysis of a much larger previously published data set. Our findings render empirical support to the attentional lapses account of the WPR.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental and Educational Psychology, Education, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Language:English
Date:24 December 2021
Deposited On:16 Nov 2022 11:16
Last Modified:28 Mar 2024 02:40
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2079-3200
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence10010002
PubMed ID:35076568
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)