Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) Processing Speed Scores as Measures of Noncredible Responding: The Third Generation of Embedded Performance Validity Indicators

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Research suggests that select processing speed measures can also serve as embedded validity indicators (EVIs). The present study examined the diagnostic utility of Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) subtests as EVIs in a mixed clinical sample of 205 patients medically referred for neuropsychological assessment (53.3% female, mean age = 45.1). Classification accuracy was calculated against 3 composite measures of performance validity as criterion variables. A PSI ≤79 produced a good combination of sensitivity (.23–.56) and specificity (.92–.98). A Coding scaled score ≤5 resulted in good specificity (.94–1.00), but low and variable sensitivity (.04–.28). A Symbol Search scaled score ≤6 achieved a good balance between sensitivity (.38–.64) and specificity (.88–.93). A Coding—Symbol Search scaled score difference ≥5 produced adequate specificity (.89–.91) but consistently low sensitivity (.08–.12). A 2-tailed cutoff on the Coding/Symbol Search raw score ratio (≤1.41 or ≥3.57) produced acceptable specificity (.87–.93), but low sensitivity (.15–.24). Failing ≥2 of these EVIs produced variable specificity (.81–.93) and sensitivity (.31–.59). Failing ≥3 of these EVIs stabilized specificity (.89–.94) at a small cost to sensitivity (.23–.53). Results suggest that processing speed based EVIs have the potential to provide a cost-effective and expedient method for evaluating the validity of cognitive data. Given their generally low and variable sensitivity, however, they should not be used in isolation to determine the credibility of a given response set. They also produced unacceptably high rates of false positive errors in patients with moderate-to-severe head injury. Combining evidence from multiple EVIs has the potential to improve overall classification accuracy.

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