Racial differences in positive findings on embedded performance validity tests

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3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Embedded performance validity tests (PVTs) may show increased positive findings in racially diverse examinees. This study examined positive findings in an older adult sample of African American (AA) and European American (EA) individuals recruited as part of a study on aging and cognition. Method: The project involved secondary analysis of deidentified National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center data (N = 22,688). Exclusion criteria included diagnosis of dementia (n = 5,550), mild cognitive impairment (MCI; n = 5,160), impaired but not MCI (n = 1,126), other race (n = 864), and abnormal Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE < 25; n = 135). The initial sample included 9,853 participants (16.4% AA). Propensity score matching matched AA and EA participants on age, education, sex, and MMSE score. The final sample included 3,024 individuals with 50% of participants identifying as AA. Premorbid ability estimates were calculated based on demographics. Failure rates on five raw score and six age-adjusted scaled score PVTs were examined by race. Results: Age, education, sex, MMSE, and premorbid ability estimate were not significantly different by race. Thirteen percent of AA and 3.8% of EA participants failed two or more raw score PVTs (p <.0001). On age-adjusted PVTs, 20.6% of AA and 5.9% of EA participants failed two or more (p <.0001). Conclusions: PVT failure rates were significantly higher among AA participants. Findings indicate a need for cautious interpretation of embedded PVTs with underrepresented groups. Adjustments to embedded PVT cutoffs may need to be considered to improve diagnostic accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied neuropsychology. Adult
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Embedded validity
  • false positive rate
  • neuropsychology
  • performance validity
  • racial groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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