Analysis of performance on a modified Wisconsin card sorting test for the military
Moten, Cardy, III
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Current Army doctrine stresses a need for military leaders to have the capability to make flexible and adaptive decisions, based on a future unknown environment, location, and enemy. To assess a military decision-maker’s ability in this context, we modified the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), which assesses cognitive flexibility, into a military-relevant map task. Thirty-four military officers, from all service branches, completed the map task. The purpose of this study was to (1) modify a current psychological task that measures cognitive flexibility into a military-relevant task, and (2) understand the underlying causes of individual variability in the decision making and cognitive flexibility behavior of active duty military officers on this task. Results indicated that nonperseverative errors were a strong predictor of cognitive flexibility performance on the map task. Decomposition of nonperseverative error into efficient errors and random errors revealed that participants who did not complete the map task changed their sorting strategy too soon within a series, resulting in a high quantity of random errors. This study serves as the first step in customizing cognitive psychological tests for a military purpose and understanding why some military participants show poor cognitive flexibility.
Approved for public release; distribution in unlimited.
NPS Report NumberNPS-OR-16-001
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