Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Wayne Adams

Second Advisor

Chris Koch

Third Advisor

Susan Patchin


The Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) (Delis, Kaplan, & Kramer, 2001) is a battery of tests purported to measure those higher-level abilities generally termed "executive functions." While the D-KEFS possesses generally credible psychometric properties, the absence of adequately demonstrated "ecological validity" has been identified as a weakness of the D-KEFS. The purpose of this study was to attempt to assess the ecological validity of the D-KEFS using a sample of child chess players.

All 18 of the D-KEFS tests appropriate for children were administered in this study. For comparison purposes, several other measures were also administered: the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, a measure of executive functioning, the Wide Range Intelligence Test, a measure of intelligence, two working memory subtests from the Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning-2, and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function.

Twenty-eight participants between the ages of 8 and 12 years were divided into two groups based on their United States Chess Federation (USCF) rating score. One-way Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) revealed significant group differences on four of the nine D-KEFS scores. Pearson r correlations revealed many small to moderate correlations between performance on various D-KEFS tests and IQ, working memory, and other measures of executive functioning. Chess ability correlated significantly with only one score on one of the individual D-KEFS tests and none of the other 15 scores analyzed across the other measures. Further relationships between chess ability and performance on cognitive testing were not found, nor were consistently significant relationships between performance on the D-KEFS and the other measures. While these findings could be due to sample characteristics, it is also possible that the D-KEFS is not a valid measure of executive functioning in children.

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