Publication Details

Howard, S. J. & Okely, A. D. (2015). Catching fish and avoiding sharks: investigating factors that influence developmentally appropriate measurement of preschoolers' inhibitory control. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33 (6), 585-596.


Although researchers agree that the first 5 years of life are critical for children's developing executive functions (EFs), further advances are hindered by a lack of consensus on the design and selection of developmentally appropriate EF tasks for young children. Given this debate, well-established adult measures of EF routinely have been adapted for young children. Given young children's comparatively limited cognitive capacities, however, such adaptations do not guarantee that the task's critical EF demands are retained. To investigate this possibility, the current study examined the characteristics that optimize measurement of young children's EFs-specifically, their inhibitory control-using the go/no-go (GNG) task as an exemplar. Sixty preschoolers completed six GNG tasks differing in stimulus animation, presentation time, and response location. Comparison EF tasks were administered to examine concurrent validity of GNG variants. Results indicated effects of stimulus presentation time and response location, with animation further enhancing task validity and reliability. This suggests that current GNG tasks deflate estimates of young children's ability to inhibit, with implications for future design and selection of developmentally appropriate EF tasks.



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