The Accuracy and Precision of Measurement

Tools for Validating Reaction Time Stimuli

  • Leandro Calcagnotto Independent Researcher
  • Richard Huskey Department of Communication, Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis
  • Gerald M. Kosicki School of Communication, The Ohio State University
Keywords: reaction times, measurement accuracy, validation, open science


Measurement noise differs by instrument and limits the validity and reliability of findings. Researchers collecting reaction time data introduce noise in the form of response time latency from hardware and software, even when collecting data on standardized computer-based experimental equipment. Reaction time is a measure with broad application for studying cognitive processing in communication research that is vulnerable to response latency noise. In this study, we utilized an Arduino microcontroller to generate a ground truth value of average response time latency in Asteroid Impact, an open source, naturalistic, experimental video game stimulus. We tested if response time latency differed across computer operating system, software, and trial modality. Here we show that reaction time measurements collected using Asteroid Impact were susceptible to response latency variability on par with other response-latency measuring software tests. These results demonstrate that Asteroid Impact is a valid and reliable stimulus for measuring reaction time data. Moreover, we provide researchers with a low-cost and open-source tool for evaluating response time latency in their own labs. Our results highlight the importance of validating measurement tools and support the philosophy of contributing methodological improvements in communication science.

How to Cite
Calcagnotto, L., Huskey, R., & Kosicki, G. (2021). The Accuracy and Precision of Measurement. Computational Communication Research, 3(2), 133-151. Retrieved from