Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Stuart Hall

Commitee Members

Allen Szalda-Petree, Daniel Denis, Gyda Swaney, Annie Sondag


assessment, diagnosis threat, mild traumatic brain injury, neuropsychology


University of Montana


The present study examined the effect of diagnosis threat on neuropsychological test performance. Forty-nine participants with a history of mTBI were randomly assigned to either a Diagnosis Threat group or a Control group. The Diagnosis Threat group was told that they were selected to participate based on their history of head injury and that they might expect to perform more poorly on testing. Participants in the Control group were told to perform to the best of their ability. It was hypothesized that individuals who had a history of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) made salient prior to testing (Diagnosis Threat group) would perform worse on neuropsychological testing compared with individuals who did not have a history of mTBI made salient. Additionally, it was hypothesized that individuals in the Diagnosis Threat group would rate themselves as putting forth less effort on the neuropsychological tests, feel less confident in their performance, feel they performed worse, and perceive the tests as harder compared to the control group. Finally, it was hypothesized that individuals in the Diagnosis Threat group would report lower academic self-efficacy than the Control group.

Results suggest that diagnosis threat alone may not compromise neuropsychological test performance. Additionally, the diagnosis threat condition did not result in lowered self-report ratings regarding the testing experience. However, the Diagnosis Threat group did report lower academic self-efficacy than the Control group, suggesting that diagnosis threat may contribute to a lowered belief in one's abilities without compromising their test scores. Limitations to the current study are discussed and recommendations are made for future studies.



© Copyright 2012 Haley Gail Trontel