Monday, December 19, 2005

Impulsivity (conative variable) and Gf (fluid intelligence)

Karl Schweizer. Does impulsivity influence performance in reasoning? Personality and Individual Differences, 33 (2002) 1031-1043

  • Impulsivity/reflectivity is an established cognitive style (Kagan, 1965; Kagan, Moss, & Sigel, 1963) showing two extremes---one of which is denoted as impulsive and the other one reflective. The impulsive style is characterized by fast decisions of which the certainty of being correct is low whereas the reflective style denotes the preference for late decisions associated with a high degree of certainty.
  • Most clinicians who administer individually administered Gf tests (as part of a comprehensive psychological assessment) often observe that an individual's degree of impulsive or reflective cognitive style can impact Gf test performance. Empirical upport for this clinical observation was reported by Schweizer (2002 - see reference above) who investigated the influence of impulsivity on reasoning in a sample of 108 high school and university students.
  • In this study, impulsivity was operationally measured by the PRF Impulsivity Scale [Jackson, D. N. (1974). Manual for the Personality Research Form (2nd ed.). Goshen: Research Psychologists Press.], the MMPI Impulsivity Scale [Gough, H. G. (1957). California psychological inventory manual. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.] and the FPI Impulsiveness Scale [Fahrenberg, J., Hampel, R., & Selg, H. (1994). Das Freiburger Persdn- lichkeitsinventar FPI. 6. Aufl. G6ttingen: Hogrefe.]. Reasoning was measured by the Figural Reasoning Scale (Horn, W., 1983) and the Numeric/Alphabetical Reasoning Scale [Horn, W. (1983). Leistungs-Pruf-System. G6ttingen: Hogrefe.
  • Structural equation modeling was applied to predict reasoning by means of an impulsivity composite variable. A path coefficient of -0.33 was reported. This result suggests the interpretation that a high degree of impulsivity impairs performance on reasoning (Gf) tasks. In this study, the -0.33 path coefficient can be interpreted as indicating that “for every one standard deviation change in impulsivity (in the direction of increased impulsivity), there was a 1/3 (.33) decrease in measured Gf.
  • Reasoning (Gf) is a prominent instance of a complex mental activity. Since impulsivity tends to interrupt the execution of well-conceived behavioral plans, it is not surprising to find that an impulsive cognitive style can produce a negative a influence on cognitive tasks (viz., reasoning) where the processing demands are complex.Therefore, a disadvantageous influence of impulsivity on reasoning task performance measures can cause inappropriate responding in completing reasoning tasks (e.g.,. responding exceptionally fast and without a sufficient degree of certainty.
  • The results of this study support the assumption that impulsivity influences reasoning. As concluded by the authors, this should be regarded as a sort of secondary influence since the reasoning (Gf) ability itself is presumably not impaired. Instead, impulsive people are prevented from performing according to their potential in that at times the concentration on a difficult problem is interrupted.

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