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09-12-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2019

Psychological Research 6/2019

Experimental validation of the diffusion model based on a slow response time paradigm

Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2019
Veronika Lerche, Andreas Voss


The diffusion model (Ratcliff, Psychol Rev 85(2):59–108, 1978) is a stochastic model that is applied to response time (RT) data from binary decision tasks. The model is often used to disentangle different cognitive processes. The validity of the diffusion model parameters has, however, rarely been examined. Only few experimental paradigms have been analyzed with those being restricted to fast response time paradigms. This is attributable to a recommendation stated repeatedly in the diffusion model literature to restrict applications to fast RT paradigms (more specifically, to tasks with mean RTs below 1.5 s per trial). We conducted experimental validation studies in which we challenged the necessity of this restriction. We used a binary task that features RTs of several seconds per trial and experimentally examined the convergent and discriminant validity of the four main diffusion model parameters. More precisely, in three experiments, we selectively manipulated these parameters, using a difficulty manipulation (drift rate), speed-accuracy instructions (threshold separation), a more complex motoric task (non-decision time), and an asymmetric payoff matrix (starting point). The results were similar to the findings from experimental validation studies based on fast RT paradigms. Thus, our experiments support the validity of the parameters of the diffusion model and speak in favor of an extension of the model to paradigms based on slower RTs.

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