The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores

Borghans, Lex, Meijers, Huub and ter Weel, Bas (2006). The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores. UNU-MERIT.

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  • Sub-type Working paper
    Author Borghans, Lex
    Meijers, Huub
    ter Weel, Bas
    Title The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores
    Publication Date 2006
    Place of Publication Maastricht, NL
    Publisher UNU-MERIT
    Pages 32
    Abstract This paper examines whether noncognitive skills - measured both by personality traits and economic preference parameters - influence cognitive tests performance. The basic idea is that noncognitive skills might affect the effort people put into a test to obtain good results. We experimentally varied the rewards for questions in a cognitive test to measure to what extent people are sensitive to financial incentives. To distinguish increased mental effort from extra time investments we also varied the questions' time constraints. Subjects with favorable personality traits such as high performance-motivation and an internal locus of control perform relatively well in the absence of rewards; consistent with a model in which trying as hard as you can is the best strategy. In contrast, favorable economic preference parameters (low discount rate, low risk aversion) are associated with increases in time investments when incentives are introduced, consistent with a rational economic model in which people only invest when there are monetary returns. The main conclusion is that individual behavior at cognitive tests depends on noncognitive skills.
    Keyword Cognitive test scores
    Noncognitive skills
    JEL J20
    J24
    Copyright Holder UNU-MERIT
    Copyright Year 2006
    Copyright type All rights reserved
    ISSN 18719872
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    Created: Wed, 11 Dec 2013, 15:48:38 JST