I was reading about the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and although I understand the concept, I'm not clear on what rules are usually tested. Does it always vary between associations between shape, colour and number? For example, let's say I have a card with two red circles. Are the only possible matches to this card something with two shapes on it, red shapes on it or circles on it? Are more complex rules, such as the number of shapes + 1 or circles associate to green also tested?


2 Answers 2


If you read between the lines of Evaluation of a Short-Form of the Berg Card Sorting Test, you can find that indeed the only rules tested are the simple colour, number and shape matching. This can be identified by either looking at the source code attached to the paper or looking at the sample result table.


See also this paper.


There is a good explanation here.

This is not a test of IQ or something similar. It is more complex test of ability to find rules and follow from very limited feedback, rules that are changing in time and might be counter-intuitive.

WCST is about sequential learning, adaptivity, and memory. Rules usually are as simple as "same color" or "same shapes".

  • $\begingroup$ This is what I've concluded as well after going through a few papers, however I can't find a canonical definition. Even the one you linked to (which I've read before, but is still helpful to link to here) seems a little vague for my taste. $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Feb 21, 2015 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ finding original paper should help. It seems that since PC era started, researchers use standard software and never disclose (or even make a reference) exact protocol. $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2015 at 22:47

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