Data for “Occupation shapes cognition? The case of restaurant ticket collectors' working memory updating ability”

Published: 6 March 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/wzyx3c4kfb.1


Previous research addressing the question whether specific professions are causally related to certain cognitive abilities did not allow for clearly claiming a causal relation and/or did not assess working memory updating (WMU), one of the most central aspects of executive functioning relevant for daily-life functioning. The target article (doi: 10.1002/acp.4055) focused on WMU ability in relation to the profession of a restaurant “ticket collector”, which is assumed to require strong WM(U) abilities. In Study 1, restaurant ticket collectors (n=53) were compared to security guards (n=49) on their performance on two WMU tasks. The two groups were matched on demographic characteristics and general intelligence. In Study 2, a group of students (n=33) completed an adaptive 20-day WMU training task that simulated important aspects of a restaurant ticket collector’s job: memorizing and updating person-food pairs. An active control group (n=33) was used. Before and after the training, all participants completed WMU tasks and two tests of general intelligence. Study 1 revealed that the restaurant ticket collectors performed better on the WMU tasks than the security guards. However, time working as a ticket collector was not significantly correlated with WMU task performance. In Study 2, using the active control group as comparison, the trained students showed training-induced beneficial effects on the non-trained WMU tasks (nearest and near transfer) but not on the two tests of general intelligence (far transfer). Although we did not find the expected association between time working as a ticket collector and WMU task performance in Study 1, which could reflect a non-linear relation, the results of Study 2 were taken as evidence in favor of the claim that repeated experience with a task demanding WMU benefit WMU performance as assessed with objective lab tasks. Therefore, the results support the general notion of repeated experience with occupation-specific demands affecting specific objectively-assessed cognitive abilities. The data files concern two SPSS data files, one for Study 1 and one for Study 2, containing pre-processed data. The data consist of each participant’s score on demographic characteristics and task outcome measures: gender, age, working time, education, intelligence tests (Raven’s tests), WMU tasks (running memory and n-back tasks: proportion correct responses), and training sessions (mean n-back level reached). These scores were used in analyses of (co-)variance to examine predictors of WMU task performance, training progress, and training-induced transfer effects. The meaning of each column in the data files is described under the tab Variable View --> Label. The raw data of the running memory and n-back tasks (in Eprime format) on which the corresponding pre-processed data are based are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.



Northwest Normal University, Radboud Universiteit Afdeling Psychologie


Occupational Analysis, Working Memory, Cognitive Intervention


National Natural Science Foundation of China


Humanities and Social Sciences research project of the Ministry of Education of China