Abstract

Objective: An, Zakzanis, and Joordens (2012) found unusually high rates of poor effort on performance validity tests (PVTs failed at 31%-56%) in undergraduate research participants compared to previous studies conducted in our laboratory. The current study included different demand characteristics in an experimental situation to examine whether differential treatment of research participants accounted for differences in PVT scores, as well as a rationally derived test progression to examine whether differences in these variables controlled the failure rate. Method: 110 undergraduate volunteers were assigned to three conditions: positive, neutral, or negative. In each condition, half of the subjects were administered measures in an easy-to-hard test progression, whereas the other half were administered measures in a hard-to-easy test progression. Measures included: Trail Making Test, Shipley-2, Stroop Color-Word, Wide Range Achievement Test-4, Beck Anxiety and Depression Inventories, International Personality Item Pool, and Word Memory Test (WMT). Results: Since order had no effect on any variable according to multiple one-way ANOVAs (p > .05), results were collapsed across order. The only significant difference occurred for the Stroop C condition where the negative condition performed more poorly than the positive condition (p < .05), while neither differed from the neutral condition. Only seven participants (6.4%) failed the WMT and failures occurred roughly equally across conditions. Conclusion(s): Neither experimenter demeanor nor test order difficulty impacted WMT performance in the current results. Results also found only a 6.4% WMT failure rate. These results are in direct contrast to those of An et al. (2012). The reasons for this discrepancy are discussed.