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Category Width and Quantitative Aptitude

Messick, Samuel J.; Kogan, Nathan
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute of Mental Health, Cognitive Style, Constructed Responses, Mathematics Tests, Multiple Choice Tests, Pettigrew Estimation Questionnaire, Test Format


In an effort to clarify the reported correlation between breadth of categorization and quantitative aptitude, the Pettigrew category-width task was administered along with three specially-constructed quantitative aptitude tests--one having a multiple-choice format with widely-spaced alternatives, one a multiple-choice format with narrowly-spaced alternatives, and one a free-response format. Preference for broad category widths was only marginally related to the free-response quantitative test, but was substantially related to the form with widely-spaced alternatives. The negligible correlation between category-width preferences and the narrowly-spaced quantitative form suggests that the narrow spacing penalizes the broad categorizer by disrupting the "approximation" strategy she may tend to employ on a multiple-choice quantitative test.

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