Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Stuart Hall, Ph.D.

Commitee Members

Stuart Hall, Ph.D., Allen Szalda-Petree, Ph.D., Annie Sondag, Ph.D.


secondary factors, neuropsychological assessment, cognitive performance, expectations, perception


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Cognitive Psychology


Neuropsychological testing is a critical element of the assessment and treatment of a host of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. Certain non-neurological variables may also affect an individual’s test performance. Such secondary factors may include current psychiatric issues, chronic pain, sleep, and the effort put forth during testing. Little is known, however, about the effect the testing process itself has on people’s actual and perceived cognitive abilities. For example, the process of undergoing memory testing may, through a variety of mechanisms, influence memory performance and impact the person such that their view of their memory function changes. To effectively assess and treat patients, it is necessary to understand the influence our assessment methods have on patients’ memory test scores and the extent to which the assessment experience alters their self-concept. Thus, this project examined the effects of test difficulty on self-reported memory ability. A sample (n = 59) of undergraduate students and healthy older adults took two standardized neuropsychological tests of memory with differing levels of difficulty and rated their memory abilities at baseline and after each test. It was hypothesized that self-reported memory abilities would be higher after taking the easy test, and lower after taking the hard test. The results of this study may help clinicians better understand the impact their assessment techniques may have on examinees and how results from neuropsychological evaluations may be best used to help individuals make appropriate adjustments to their memory difficulties.



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