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Front Psychol. 2019 Feb 6;10:102. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00102. eCollection 2019.

An Overview of Models for Response Times and Processes in Cognitive Tests.

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Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States.
KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States.


Response times (RTs) are a natural kind of data to investigate cognitive processes underlying cognitive test performance. We give an overview of modeling approaches and of findings obtained with these approaches. Four types of models are discussed: response time models (RT as the sole dependent variable), joint models (RT together with other variables as dependent variable), local dependency models (with remaining dependencies between RT and accuracy), and response time as covariate models (RT as independent variable). The evidence from these approaches is often not very informative about the specific kind of processes (other than problem solving, information accumulation, and rapid guessing), but the findings do suggest dual processing: automated processing (e.g., knowledge retrieval) vs. controlled processing (e.g., sequential reasoning steps), and alternative explanations for the same results exist. While it seems well-possible to differentiate rapid guessing from normal problem solving (which can be based on automated or controlled processing), further decompositions of response times are rarely made, although possible based on some of model approaches.


automated and controlled processes; cognitive processes; cognitive tests; local dependencies; psychometric models; response accuracy; response time

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