Cognitive Processes: Reaction Time And Accuracy

Human cognitive processes include sensation, perception, attention, imagination, memory, thinking, and speech. “Identifying the cognitive processes underlying social decision making has major implications for understanding human nature” (Chen & Fischbacher, 2020, p. 422). Response time is a natural type of data for studying cognitive processes, the time that elapses from the moment information is perceived to the response. In other words, it is the ability to detect, process, and respond to a stimulus. Reaction time is always important when measuring ability. This factor can be decisive and central to the results of cognitive tests. Low information processing speed is not in itself a learning or attention problem. It is not related to intelligence, however, it affects all stages of learning.

However, this factor can be inaccurate, as the tested person may guess the correct answer quickly without thinking about the required time. A large number of factors can affect reaction time. For example, a person may be distracted and show a lower score, even though they are capable of more. Additionally, a slow response can indicate that the reaction is delayed and that the person has decided to think more carefully about their answer.

The accuracy of task solving can also be a measure of cognitive processes. As well as response time, many factors influence the accuracy of a solution. For example, a person may take more time than they have been given to think about their answer. Also, some people may misunderstand a question that does not imply mental disability.

The conclusion from the above is that people can use reaction time and accuracy to measure cognitive processes. However, examiners must consider all factors affecting reaction time and precision to get the most accurate result possible. Only by assessing all aspects can one determine if a person is abnormal.


Chen, F., & Fischbacher, U. (2020). Cognitive processes underlying distributional preferences: a response time study. Experimental Economics, 23(2), 421-446.