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I am interested in tests like the Iowa gambling test and the Wisconsin card-sorting test. If a patient understands how such a test works and the goals of the test, does this bias the measure obtained? What test-taker can fake via higher cognitive function that might be intact, and what will be impossible to fake?

I imagine that the speed of taking a test might be a limiting factor. So if the rate of card picking is high, a patient may perform in a default way and be unable to apply higher cognitive control. Or if the patient tries to beat the test using knowledge about it, this will be evident in that the patient will take more time.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting question. In your context, (a) what construct are you aiming to measure? and (b) in what way are participants motivated to fake? (i.e., do they want to appear to have more functioning or less functioning?) $\endgroup$ – Jeromy Anglim May 14 '15 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ @JeromyAnglim (a) Could you please rephrase, I don't know what "construct" you talk about? My interest is diagnostical: how do you test a neuroscience student? Concerning (b), subject might not be directly interested in faking, but will without explicit intention, or will direct attention not to the test, but to prior knowledge about the test. $\endgroup$ – aaaaaa May 14 '15 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you want to do a test on neuroscience students? What is your broader goal? $\endgroup$ – Jeromy Anglim May 14 '15 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ I have no personal interest in the problem, or any experiment I am running. $\endgroup$ – aaaaaa May 14 '15 at 10:35
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Yes, knowing they are under an Iowa (or Wisconsin) test will change their behavior---and most likely create all sorts of biases in the results.

And you're probably right; time constraints will most likely place subjects into system1 thinking.

Subjects' having knowledge about an experiment may generally ruin it, for it can make testability collapse (how will others reproduce the results?). There are, moreover, all sorts of confounding factors that may directly influence subjects' behavior. Also, one cannot argue that 'they were concentrated on the task at hand', as they knew what was expected. One of the basis of empiricism is to not intervene (as in the Milgram Authority experiment, for instance). In most experiments, subjects will either hear a fairytale story of what they are being asked to do, or are simply told no background story. For example, experiments on priming with money generally hide the goals from subjects (See also Bargh and colleagues experiments on priming, which follow the same route, and were considered extremely controversial by psychologists until the last years).

Of course, this is not a straightjacket rule. One can do psychological experiments in which the subjects know what they must do and they should only "respond truthfully". Perhaps the most famous example of those was Ariely's "adult" experiment (It's quite a read). I have also conducted experiments in which subjects knew the goals completely, but one (control) group could not achieve it (low-skill group versus high-skill group, such as chess grandmasters). Ideally, however, subjects should be blind to the actual objective of the test conducted.

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