Dynamic cognitive flexibility: Influences of time and personality traits on voluntary task selection
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Cognitive flexibility, or the ability to flexibly switch between different task sets, is often operationalized using performance on voluntary task switching (VTS) paradigms. In VTS paradigms, performance is commonly measured by examining reaction time, accuracy, the effects of switching tasks on reaction time and accuracy, and the rate at which participants choose to switch tasks. Previous literature has frequently examined these measures in terms of overall task averages. Instead, the current work examines whether these measures change during task performance, as well as the degree to which individual differences in these changes might inform individual differences in external measures. A series of three experiments, two of which utilized publicly available datasets from previous publications, examined changes in these measures throughout the performance of different VTS paradigms administered by different labs. In the first two experiments, significant group-level declines in switch rates were present, consistent with increased effort avoidance and early fatigue effects. In the third experiment, no such decline was present at a group level; however, subject-level changes in switch rates were related to scores on BIS/BAS subscales, while subject average switch rates were not. The current work suggests that examining changes in switch rates throughout a task might provide valuable information not captured by average switch rates that future VTS studies might wish to explore. Future work should attempt to clarify the conditions in which group-level declines in switch rate can be produced as well as which cognitive mechanisms might underlie these declines.
Imburgio, Michael; Orr, Joseph (2021). Dynamic cognitive flexibility: Influences of time and personality traits on voluntary task selection. psyArXiv. Available electronically from
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