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Why are some inhibitory tasks easy for preschool children when most are difficult? Testing two hypotheses

Simpson, Andrew and Lipscombe, Stuart and Carroll, Daniel J (2022) 'Why are some inhibitory tasks easy for preschool children when most are difficult? Testing two hypotheses.' Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 220. p. 105431. ISSN 0022-0965

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Understanding the processes that create inhibitory demands is central to understanding the role of inhibitory control in all aspects of development. The processes that create inhibitory demands on most developmental tasks seem clear and well understood. However, there is one inhibitory task that appears substantially easier than the others: the Reverse Categorization task, in which children are asked to “reverse sort” items (e.g., put large items in a small box and put small items in a large box). This finding is both surprising and problematic because it cannot be explained by any existing account of inhibitory development. Four experiments with 3- and 4-year-olds sought to explain why the Reverse Categorization task is easy. Two experiments (N = 64) investigated the hypothesis that children conceptualize the task in a way that reduces its inhibitory demands; and two experiments (N = 56) tested the hypothesis that the task is easier because children sort items slowly. The data indicate that children spontaneously respond more slowly on the Reverse Categorization task than on other inhibitory tasks and that this slowing reduces the task’s cognitive demands. The way in which slowed responding works, and its relation to other inhibition-reducing interventions, is discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Inhibitory control; Preschoolers; Task conceptualization; Response delay; Reverse Categorization task; Executive Function
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 13:03
Last Modified: 03 May 2022 13:03

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