The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores
AbstractThis paper examines whether noncognitive skills – measured both by personality traits and economic preference parameters – influence cognitive tests performance. The basic idea is that noncognitive skills might affect the effort people put into a test to obtain good results. We experimentally varied the rewards for questions in a cognitive test to measure to what extent people are sensitive to financial incentives. To distinguish increased mental effort from extra time investments we also varied the questions’ time constraints. Subjects with favorable personality traits such as high performance-motivation and an internal locus of control perform relatively well in the absence of rewards; consistent with a model in which trying as hard as you can is the best strategy. In contrast, favorable economic preference parameters (low discount rate, low risk aversion) are associated with increases in time investments when incentives are introduced, consistent with a rational economic model in which people only invest when there are monetary returns. The main conclusion is that individual behavior at cognitive tests depends on noncognitive skills.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2429.
Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Inquiry, 2008, 46 (1), 2-12
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Other versions of this item:
- Lex Borghans & Huub Meijers & Bas Ter Weel, 2008. "The Role Of Noncognitive Skills In Explaining Cognitive Test Scores," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(1), pages 2-12, 01.
- Borghans Lex & Meijers Huub & Weel Bas ter, 2006. "The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores," ROA Research Memorandum 006, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
- Meijers, Huub & Borghans, Lex & Weel, Bas ter, 2006. "The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores," MERIT Working Papers 044, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
- Borghans Lex & Meijers Huub & Weel Bas ter, 2006. "The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores," Research Memoranda 006, Maastricht : ROA, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market.
- Meijers, Huub & Borghans, Lex & Weel, Bas ter, 2006. "The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores," UNU-MERIT Working Paper Series 044, United Nations University, Maastricht Economic and social Research and training centre on Innovation and Technology.
- J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
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- Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
- Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
- Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
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