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The functional independence of response latency and accuracy: Implications for the concept of conceptual tempo


Kagan (1965a) developed the concepts of impulsive and reflective cognitive styles (conceptual tempo) to add a new dimension to the understanding and assessment of human intelligence. Although latency (the principal component of conceptual tempo) is negatively correlated with academic performance, it may not be necessary to modify latency in order to modify accuracy. With 40 disadvantaged preschool children, it was found that reinforcing long latencies in choice tasks did not increase accuracy and vice versa, and that reinforcing both long latencies and accuracy was no more effective than reinforcing accuracy alone. These data were used to question the usefulness of the construct of conceptual tempo.

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Correspondence to Benjamin B. Lahey.

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This article is based on a master's thesis prepared by the first author under the supervision of the second author.

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Williams, M., Lahey, B.B. The functional independence of response latency and accuracy: Implications for the concept of conceptual tempo. J Abnorm Child Psychol 5, 371–378 (1977).

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  • Tempo
  • Academic Performance
  • Response Latency
  • Preschool Child
  • Cognitive Style