Using the Reaction Time Test

I have been asked numerous times by students, teachers and research scientists if they can use the reaction timer test on this website for their projects or research. See these pages for details about testing reaction time and conducting the test.

Is the test copyrighted?

You are free to use the reaction timer on these pages for your research, as with all information on this website. Generally, you are free to use the information as long as the source of the information is listed, such as linking back to this website. See the copyright page for more information.

Is the test accurate, valid, reliable?

The test can be affected by the speed of the computer being used, so may not be reliable if you use results from different computers. If you use the same computer it should be a reliable test. I have not compared the results to a criterion measure, so I have no idea how accurate it is, though the values seem to be reasonable. Whatever test procedure you use should be standardized to ensure test-retest reliability.

Controlling the procedure

For this test to be reliable, the test procedure needs to be well controlled. The subject should be seated comfortably, with the seat, tabletop and screen at an appropriate height. This set up should be standardized for all subjects, and the details of the procedure recorded with the results so that the same conditions can be repeated at a later date if required. The movement of the arm should not be restricted. Please note that this reaction time test uses java scripting, and is based on when you release your finger from the mouse button, not when you press down. Therefore the participant needs to be well aware of this so they can take the appropriate action.

What is it measuring?

Reaction time will be specific to the action it is measuring. This simple test measures the speed to respond to a color change on a screen, and the decision to press a button when the color changes, and for the action to take place. The time taken is a result of the time of nerve conduction and the conduction of the signal across the synaptic spaces. The nerve signals that are involved are from the eyes to the brain, within the brain, and along the spine and nerves to the arm. Reaction time in the sporting field is quite different - athletes receive stimuli from the eyes (position of other players, the ball etc), the ears (calling from players, the referee, even spectators), and kinesthetic sense (the performer's position, their options etc), and the reaction to these stimuli is often a complex movement.

Are there any norms?

There are no normative data for this test, except for the poll results on this website. All users of the reaction time test have the opportunity to record their results. You can see the poll results here. However, you should be cautious of using the data from the poll as there is no way of knowing if the results were actually achieved, and the results are from people using different computers, operating systems, and test procedures.

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