Cognitive Ability Score Differences on Mobile and Nonmobile Devices: The Role of Working Memory
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In the last few decades there has been a dramatic shift in the way employment-related assessments are administered due to technological advancements. Mobile devices are increasingly used in employment-related assessments despite documented significant performance differences in scores on cognitive tests completed on mobile and nonmobile devices. These performance differences have been attributed to structural characteristic differences between mobile and nonmobile devices, which place differentiated information processing demands on test takers (Arthur, Keiser, & Doverspike, 2016). This relationship between the structural characteristic differences and information processing demands serves as the basis for Arthur et al.’s Structural Characteristics Information Processing (SCIP) model. The present study examines one component of this model, working memory, and the role it plays in the observed performance differences on mobile device cognitive assessments. Participants were recruited from the Texas A&M University Psychology Department Subject Pool (n = 196), and were randomly assigned to either a smartphone (n = 100) or desktop computer (n = 96) device condition to complete the specified cognitive and noncognitive assessments; they then completed a working memory test on a desktop computer. The relationship between participants’ working memory test scores and their cognitive and noncognitive test scores were examined to investigate whether the relationships differ as a function of the device type on which participants were tested. The results failed to show the expected device type differences for cognitive ability. However, as hypothesized, there was a stronger relationship between working memory and general mental ability (GMA) when the GMA test was completed on a smartphone compared to a desktop computer. Also as hypothesized, there was no significant difference between the smartphone and desktop device conditions on noncognitive test scores, nor in the working memory-noncognitive test score correlations for smartphones and desktop computers. The findings provide partial, initial support for Arthur et al.’s SCIP model, which can be utilized to explain the effects of internet-based testing devices on scores on employment-related assessments and tests.
Hagen, Ellen Selma (2016). Cognitive Ability Score Differences on Mobile and Nonmobile Devices: The Role of Working Memory. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from