Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William Drew Gouvier


The present study examined the effects that personal experience with head injury, task specific instruction and brain injury knowledge have on the ability to feign postconcussion symptoms and neuropsychological performance patterns seen in mild head injured patients. A sample of non-head injured and head injured college students served as the experimental subjects. These subjects were randomly assigned to conditions in which they were told to either do their best, feign deficits consistent with mild head injury without task specific instruction, or feign deficits while given task specific instruction. Subjects were also classified into one of two head injury knowledge groups based upon above average or below-to-average performance on a head injury misconception survey. Postconcussive symptom complaints were affected by head injury knowledge, instruction, and gender. Coached male malingerers with above average head injury knowledge endorsed relatively higher rates of postconcussive symptoms than any of the other groups. However, other malingering groups accurately simulated levels of postconcussive symptoms seen in the mild head injured patients. Performance on malingering tests was affected by instruction to simulate head injury, however coaching was not shown to produce a more realistic pattern of performance on the malingering tests relative to the head injured patients. The results of this study indicate that analog malingerers can accurately replicate self-reported postconcussive symptoms reported in mild head injured patients. However, malingering subjects are unable to simulate mild head injured patient's performance on clinical malingering tests. These results suggest that self-report measures of postconcussive symptoms and clinical tests are differentially vulnerable to instructions to malinger. In summary, personal experience, accuracy of head injury beliefs, and test specific coaching did not contribute to a more realistic mild head injury profile.