Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures

Event Title

The International Neuropsychological Society 47th Annual Meeting: "Embracing the Biopsychosocial Melting Pot"

Event Location

New York City, New, York, USA

Document Type


Presentation Date


Date Range

2019-02-20 - 2019-02-23


Objective: To investigate the effect of ethnicity on neuropsychological test performance by specifically exploring differences between white and black former NFL athletes on subtests of the WAIS-IV.
Participants and Methods: Data was derived from a de-identified database in Florida consisting of 63 former NFL athletes (Mage=50.38; SD=11.57); 28 white and 35 black. Participants completed the following subtests of the WAIS-IV: Block Design, Similarities, Digit Span, Matrix Reasoning, Arithmetic, Symbol Search, Visual Puzzles, Coding, and Cancellation.
Results: One-Way ANOVA yielded a significant effect between ethnicity and performance on several subtests. Black athletes had significantly lower scaled scores than white athletes on Block Design F(1,61)=14.266, p<.001, Similarities F(1,61)=5.904, p=.018, Digit Span F(1,61)=8.985, p=.004, Arithmetic F(1,61)=16.07, p<.001 and Visual Puzzles F(1,61)=16.682, p< .001. No effect of ethnicity was seen on performance of Matrix Reasoning F(1,61)=2.937, p=.092, Symbol Search F(1,61)=3.619, p=.062, Coding F(1,61)=3.032, p=.087 or Cancellation F(1,61)=2.289, p=.136.
Conclusions: Results reveal significant differences between white and black athletes on all subtests of the WAIS-IV but those from the Processing Speed Scale and Matrix Reasoning. These findings align with previous literature that found white individuals to outperform African-Americans on verbal and non-verbal tasks after controlling for socioeconomic and demographic variables (Manly & Jacobs, 2002). These differences may also be a reflection of the WAIS-IV’s psychometric properties and it is significant to consider the normative sample used may not be appropriate for African-Americans. This study highlights the need for future research to identify how ethnicity specifically influences performance, sheds light on the importance of considering cultural factors when interpreting test results, and serves as a call to action to further understand how and why minorities may not be accurately represented in neuropsychological testing.



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