Shifting between mental sets: An individual differences approach to commonalities and differences of task switching components

von Bastian, Claudia C and Druey, Michel D (2017) Shifting between mental sets: An individual differences approach to commonalities and differences of task switching components. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146 (9). pp. 1266-1285. doi:10.1037/xge0000333

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Switching between mental sets has been extensively investigated in both experimental and individual differences research using a wide range of task-switch paradigms. However, it is yet unclear whether these different tasks measure a unitary shifting ability or reflect different facets thereof. In this study, 20 task pairs were administered to 119 young adults to assess 5 proposed components of mental set shifting: switching between judgments, stimulus dimensions, stimulus-response mappings, response sets, and stimulus sets. Modeling latent factors for each of the components revealed that a model with 5 separate yet mostly correlated factors fit the data best. In this model, the components most strongly related to the other latent factors were stimulus-response mapping shifting and, to a lesser degree, response set shifting. In addition, both factors were statistically indistinguishable from a second-order general shifting factor. In contrast, shifting between judgments as well as stimulus dimensions consistently required separate factors and could, hence, not fully be accounted for by the general shifting factor. Finally, shifting between stimulus sets was unrelated to any other shifting component but mapping shifting. We conclude that tasks assessing shifting between mappings are most adequate to assess general shifting ability. In contrast, shifting between stimulus sets (e.g., as in the Trail Making Test) probably reflects shifts in visual attention rather than executive shifting ability.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Task switching; Individual differences; Executive functions; Unity and diversity
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Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2017 09:16
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:04

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