• Exploring Social Influences on Executive Function in Preschool Children

      Marshall, Peter J.; Newcombe, Nora; Shipley, Thomas F.; Chein, Jason M.; Hirsh-Pasek, Kathy; Hindman, Annemarie H. (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)
      The development of executive function in young children is currently a central topic in developmental science. Despite great interest in this area, empirical research examining the influence of social interaction on children's executive functioning is still scarce. The present study aims to fill this gap by addressing how aspects of current and preceding social interactions affect preschool children's executive function performance. In the first phase of the experiment four- and five-year-old children completed an activity either individually or in collaboration with an experimenter. Following this manipulation, children completed a series of executive function tasks. The first task was a motor contagion task in which children moved a stylus on a graphics tablet while viewing a background video of another person producing congruent or incongruent movements. Children also completed a go/no-go task, a two-choice spatial compatibility task (i.e., a Simon task), and two joint go/no-go tasks in which they essentially shared a Simon task with an experimenter. The main finding from the motor contagion task was that children who collaborated with an experimenter in the first part of the study were more susceptible to interference from observing incongruent movements produced by their partner from the collaborative activity compared to observing the same movements produced by an experimenter who merely observed the collaboration. In addition, for children in both conditions, the results of the go/no-go and Simon tasks indicated the presence of a joint Simon effect. Specifically, a significant spatial compatibility effect was observed in the Simon task and the first time children completed the joint go/no-go task with an experimenter. Importantly, there was no spatial compatibility effect when children completed an individual go/no-go task. No differences were found for the joint Simon effect related to the social manipulation. The findings are discussed in relation to their implications for our understanding of social influences on children's developing executive abilities.