Integrating Item Accuracy and Reaction Time to Improve the Measurement of Inhibitory Control Abilities in Early Childhood

Brooke E. Magnus, Michael T. Willoughby, Clancy Blair, Laura J. Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Efforts to improve children’s executive function are often hampered by the lack of measures that are optimized for use during the transition from preschool to elementary school. Whereas preschool-based measures often emphasize response accuracy, elementary school-based measures emphasize reaction time (RT)—especially for measures inhibitory control (IC) tasks that typically have a speeded component. The primary objective of this study was to test in a preschool-aged sample whether the joint use of item-level accuracy and RT data resulted in improved scoring for three IC tasks relative to scores derived from accuracy data alone. Generally, the joint use of item-level accuracy and RT data resulted in modest improvements in the measurement precision of IC abilities. Moreover, the joint use of item-level accuracy and RT helped eliminate floor and ceiling effects that occurred when accuracy data were considered alone. Results are discussed with respect to the importance of scoring IC tasks in ways that are maximally informative for program evaluation and longitudinal modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Nov 1 2017



  • executive function
  • inhibitory control
  • psychometrics
  • reaction time
  • task scoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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