Interpreting low scores on the WISC-R Third Factor: It's more than distractability

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The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Revised consists of three factors: Perceptual Organization, Verbal Comprehension, and the Third Factor, also called Freedom from Distractibility. Children referred for learning and behavioral problems frequently obtain low Third Factor scores. Although resistance to the effects of distracting stimuli may be necessary for optimum performance on the Third Factor, many other hypotheses may account for low scores. This article reviews studies that elucidate the meaning of low Third Factor scores. One promising interpretation is that the Third Factor reflects "executive" and short-term memory processes involved in planning, monitoring, and evaluating task performance.