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Improvements and future challenges for the research infrastructure in the field “Measuring cognitive ability”

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Roland H. Grabner, Elsbeth Stern

The assessment of cognitive abilities is critical in large-scale survey studies that aim at elucidating the longitudinal interplay between the individual’s cognitive potential and socio-economic variables. The format of such studies calls for assessment methods which can not only be administered economically but also display a high (psychometric) measurement quality. In consideration of recent theoretical and empirical advances in intelligence research, we recommend the implementation of tests drawing on working memory in large-scale survey studies.Working memory is a limited-capacity system for temporary storage andprocessing of information and currently discussed to be the cognitive key system underlying intellectual abilities. Four types of working memory tests are exemplarily described and critically evaluated with regard to their psychometricquality and the need for further evaluation.

Keywords: cognitive abilities, intelligence, knowledge, information processing, mental speed, working memory