Relations between Executive Functioning, Second Language Fluency, and Externalizing Behavior Problems in Early Childhood

dc.contributor.advisorWinsler, Adam J.
dc.contributor.authorHutchison, Lindsey A.
dc.creatorHutchison, Lindsey A.
dc.description.abstractThe current study explores relations between executive functioning (EF), degree of bilingualism, and externalizing behavior problems in a sample (N = 79) of 5- to 7-yearold monolingual (n = 33) and bilingual (n = 46) children. The bilingual group included both children who were fully fluent in two languages (balanced bilinguals; n = 17) and children who were still learning their second language (Dual Language Learners; DLLs; n = 29). The main components of EF included inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and planning/problem-solving skills. Parents and children came into the lab for a onetime, two-hour session. Parents completed surveys on children’s language background, EF, and behavior problems while children worked with the researcher in a separate room. EF was measured with a go/no-go task (GNG), the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task (HTKS), the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS), the Simon task, and the Tower of London (TOL). Children’s language proficiency in English and Spanish was measured with direct assessments. Results revealed no language group differences for simple inhibitory control (i.e. tasks that were more response-based in nature; GNG, HTKS), but the “bilingual advantage” was demonstrated for more complex inhibitory control (i.e. task that involved control of attention; Simon) and cognitive flexibility (DCCS). Bilinguals also demonstrated superior planning/problem-solving skills (TOL), an area with little prior research. Contrary to prior research, there was some evidence that DLLs had an advantage over monolinguals in interference control and cognitive flexibility. There was no evidence that EF mediated the relationship between language group and behavior problems. There was some evidence that the relationships between EF and behavior problems were stronger for balanced bilinguals compared to DLLs and monolinguals. Findings have important implications in light of the growing population of Spanish-English balanced bilinguals and DLLs in the U.S.
dc.subjectExecutive function
dc.subjectDual language learner
dc.subjectBehavior problems
dc.titleRelations between Executive Functioning, Second Language Fluency, and Externalizing Behavior Problems in Early Childhood
dc.typeDissertation Mason University in Psychology


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