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Cognitive Failures Questionnaire

The following questions are about minor mistakes which everyone makes from time to time, but some of which happen more often than others.

We want to know how often these things have happened to you in the past 6 months.

Please use the following scale:




Very Rarely




Quite Often


Very Often




Do you read something and find you haven't been thinking about it and must read it again?



Do you find you forget why you went from one part of the house to the other?



Do you fail to notice signposts on the road?



Do you find you confuse right and left when giving directions?



Do you bump into people?



Do you find you forget whether you've turned off a light or a fire or locked the door?



Do you fail to listen to people's names when you are meeting them?



Do you say something and realize afterwards that it might be taken as insulting?



Do you fail to hear people speaking to you when you are doing something else?



Do you lose your temper and regret it?



Do you leave important letters unanswered for days?



Do you find you forget which way to turn on a road you know well but rarely use?



Do you fail to see what you want in a supermarket (although it's there)?



Do you find yourself suddenly wondering whether you've used a word correctly?



Do you have trouble making up your mind?



Do you find you forget appointments?



Do you forget where you put something like a newspaper or a book?



Do you find you accidentally throw away the thing you want and keep what you meant to throw away -- as in the example of throwing away the matchbox and putting the used match in your pocket?



Do you daydream when you ought to be listening to something?



Do you find you forget people's names?



Do you start doing one thing at home and get distracted into doing something else (unintentionally)?



Do you find you can't quite remember something although it's "on the tip of your tongue"?



Do you find you forget what you came to the shops to buy?



Do you drop things?



Do you find you can't think of anything to say?



Scoring the Scale

The CFQ was developed by Broadbent et al. (1982) -- yes, the same Broadbent who proposed the filter theory of attention -- to assess the frequency with which people experienced cognitive failures, such as absent-mindedness, in everyday life -- slips and errors of perception, memory, and motor functioning.  The most straightforward way to score the scale is simply to sum up the ratings of the 25 individual items, yielding a score from 0-100.

Scores on the scale predict episodes of absent-mindedness in both the laboratory and everyday life, including slow performance on focused attention tasks, traffic and work accidents, and forgetting to save one's data on the computer. 

A study by Rast et al. (2008) indicates that the CFQ items load on three different factors.  Summing scores across the relevant items will yield subscale scores representing these dimensions of forgetfulness:

Forgetfulness (Items 1, 2, 5, 7, 17, 20, 22, and 23): "a tendency to let go from one's mind something known or planned, for example, names, intentions, appointments, and words".

Distractibility (Items 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, 21, and 25): "mainly in social situations or interactions with other people such as being absentminded or easily disturbed in one's focused attention".

False Triggering (Items 2, 3, 5, 6, 12, 18, 23, and 24): "interrupted processing of sequences of cognitive and motor actions".



Broadbent, D.E., Cooper, P.F., FitzGerald, P., & Parkes, K.R.  (1982). The Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ) and its correlates. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 21, 1-16.

Rast, P., Zimprich, d., Van Boxtel, M., & Jolles, J.  (2009).  Factor structure and measurement invariance of the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire across the adult life span.  Assessment Vol. 16(2), 145-158.


This page last modified 04/18/2011.