Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Is executive function a valid construct ?

A though provoking post at the Developing Intelligence blog re: the psychometric validity of the construct of executive function. The DI blog dissects a recent article by Tim Salthouse, a prominent psychometrically-oriented intelligence scholar who I always read.

From my reading of various articles over the past few years I've reached the conclusion that some neuropsychological constructs (like EF) can be differentiated from more psychometrically-based intelligence constructs if one thinks about the difference between form and function. Form constructs are akin to the psychometric building blocks of CHC theory--fluid intelligence (Gf), processing speed (Gs), etc. In contrast, EF is a functional construct as it represents a combination of various form abilities that work together to perform some kind of cognitive function. Thus, I'm not surprised that it has been hard to psychometrically prove the validity of EF. Salthouse makes a solid contribution in trying to decompose the various form abilities that are combined under the umbrella functional term of EF. Chris Chatman of the DI blog also makes a good contribution via his critique of some of Salthouse's key conclusions.

A clear understanding of the various components of EF will only occur as research accumulates...and we are far from a research-based consensus today.

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