As Time Goes By: In Search of the Meaning of Response Latencies in Performance Tests

Article excerpt

This issue presents a rather loose collection of papers all dealing more or less with psychological meaning of latencies in untimed performance tests. In this respect, the contributions represent a rekindled interest in latencies attributed to different reasons and driven by different perspectives and interests.

The technological progression in psychological assessment toward computerized testing raises some new but also many old questions. In computerized tests item-by-item response latencies can be effortlessly recorded. But this feature does not automatically increase the quality of the assessment tools used. We need to give answers to psychological practitioners looking for additional sources of information to support their diagnostic decision-making. That computerized test administration programs offer latency information as a quasi default option for their data output might tempt practitioners to use response latencies even if the test authors do not explicitly encourage it.

Another hope is connected with the chance to record item-by-item latencies in performance tests. The use of response latencies is a long-standing tradition in our attempts to gain insight into cognitive processes during problem-solving. …