Examining the Latent Structure of the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System

Justin E. Karr, Scott M. Hofer, Grant L. Iverson, Mauricio A. Garcia-Barrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective The current study aimed to determine whether the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) taps into three executive function factors (inhibition, shifting, fluency) and to assess the relationship between these factors and tests of executive-related constructs less often measured in latent variable research: reasoning, abstraction, and problem solving. Method Participants included 425 adults from the D-KEFS standardization sample (20-49 years old; 50.1% female; 70.1% White). Eight alternative measurement models were compared based on model fit, with test scores assigned a priori to three factors: inhibition (Color-Word Interference, Tower), shifting (Trail Making, Sorting, Design Fluency), and fluency (Verbal/Design Fluency). The Twenty Questions, Word Context, and Proverb Tests were predicted in separate structural models. Results The three-factor model fit the data well (CFI = 0.938; RMSEA = 0.047), although a two-factor model, with shifting and fluency merged, fit similarly well (CFI = 0.929; RMSEA = 0.048). A bifactor model fit best (CFI = 0.977; RMSEA = 0.032) and explained the most variance in shifting indicators, but rarely converged among 5,000 bootstrapped samples. When the three first-order factors simultaneously predicted the criterion variables, only shifting was uniquely predictive (p <.05; R2 = 0.246-0.408). The bifactor significantly predicted all three criterion variables (p <.001; R2 = 0.141-242). Conclusions Results supported a three-factor D-KEFS model (i.e., inhibition, shifting, and fluency), although shifting and fluency were highly related (r = 0.696). The bifactor showed superior fit, but converged less often than other models. Shifting best predicted tests of reasoning, abstraction, and problem solving. These findings support the validity of D-KEFS scores for measuring executive-related constructs and provide a framework through which clinicians can interpret D-KEFS results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-394
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Clinical Neuropsychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 7 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Assessment
  • Executive functions
  • Test construction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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