Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Andrew Conway

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gabriel Cook

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Megan Zirnstein

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Claudia von Bastian


Cognitive control, also known as attentional control or executive function, is a set of fundamental processes that are utilized in a wide range of cognitive functioning: including working memory, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Currently, no existing theory of cognitive control unifies experimental and individual differences approaches. Some even argue that cognitive control as a psychometric construct does not exist at all. These disparities may exist in part because individual differences research in cognitive control utilizes tasks optimized for experimental effects (i.e., Stroop effect). As a result, many cognitive control tasks do not have reliable individual differences despite robust experimental effects (Hedge, Powell, & Sumner, 2018). In the current study, we examine the efficacy of a new task battery based on the Dual Mechanisms of Cognitive Control theory (DMCC; Braver, 2012) to provide reliable estimates of individual differences in cognitive control. With two sets of analyses, the first traditional (e.g., split-half, ICC, and rho), and the second hierarchical Bayesian, we provide evidence that (1) reliable individual differences can be extracted from experimental tasks, and (2) weak correlations between tasks of cognitive control are not solely caused by the attenuation of unreliable estimates. The implications of our findings suggest that it is unlikely that poor measurement practices are the cause of the weak between-task correlations in cognitive control, and that a psychometric construct of cognitive control should be reconsidered.