Skip to main content

Incorporating Functional Response Time Effects into a Signal Detection Theory Model


Signal detection theory (SDT; Tanner & Swets in Psychological Review 61:401-409, 1954) is a dominant modeling framework used for evaluating the accuracy of diagnostic systems that seek to distinguish signal from noise in psychology. Although the use of response time data in psychometric models has increased in recent years, the incorporation of response time data into SDT models remains a relatively underexplored approach to distinguishing signal from noise. Functional response time effects are hypothesized in SDT models, based on findings from other related psychometric models with response time data. In this study, an SDT model is extended to incorporate functional response time effects using smooth functions and to include all sources of variability in SDT model parameters across trials, participants, and items in the experimental data. The extended SDT model with smooth functions is formulated as a generalized linear mixed-effects model and implemented in the gamm4 R package. The extended model is illustrated using recognition memory data to understand how conversational language is remembered. Accuracy of parameter estimates and the importance of modeling variability in detecting the experimental condition effects and functional response time effects are shown in conditions similar to the empirical data set via a simulation study. In addition, the type 1 error rate of the test for a smooth function of response time is evaluated.

DOI: 10.1007/s11336-023-09906-9