Neither measurement error nor speed-accuracy trade-offs explain the difficulty of establishing attentional control as a psychometric construct: Evidence from a latent-variable analysis using diffusion modeling
Attentional control refers to the ability to maintain and implement a goal and goal-relevant information when facing distraction. So far, previous research has failed to substantiate strong evidence for a psychometric construct of attentional control. This has been argued to result from two methodological shortcomings: (a) the neglect of individual differences in speed-accuracy trade-offs when only speed or accuracy is used as dependent variable, and (b) the difficulty of isolating attentional control from measurement error. To overcome both issues, we combined hierarchical-Bayesian Wiener diffusion modeling with structural equation modeling. We re-analyzed five datasets, which included data from three to eight attentional-control tasks and from young and older adults. Overall, the results showed that even when accounting for speed-accuracy trade-offs and removing measurement error, measures of attentional control failed to correlate with each other and to load successfully on a latent variable. These findings emphasize the necessity of rethinking attentional control.