Semester of Graduation

Summer 2019


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Cognition is foundational to our experience of the world, but also to how psychologists understand dysfunctions. Cognitive impairment is a feature of a variety of mental disorders, but traditional assessment measures have key limitations in prediction and classification. A proposed alternative is cognitive intraindividual variability (cIIV), which is suggested to measure cognitive control or neural inefficiencies, fluctuating within a task, or over short periods of time. cIIV has been shown to be more sensitive in classification for a variety of conditions than overall performance, including in affective disorders. Further, some research suggests that cIIV is related to self-report cognitive abilities, and some domains of cIIV may relate to positive and negative affect. This study examined the relationship between negative and positive affect and cIIV, and cIIV and self-reported concentration ability, in an ambulatory assessment of executive functioning in a college aged sample. Sixty-two college students provided data on the TrailMaking Task, along with self-reported negative and positive affect (k = 167) and concentration ability (k = 132). Only negative affect was associated with a change in cIIV, where increased negative affect resulted in decreased cIIV. This unexpected finding, in context of past literature, suggests a variety of future directions: ascertaining whether the relationship between negative affect and cIIV is linear or curvilinear, exploring the ways affect increases or decreases cIIV on tasks which require different cognitive functions, and exploring the differences between within and across trial cIIV.

Committee Chair

Cohen, Alex