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01-07-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2017

Psychological Research 4/2017

The relation between spatial perspective taking and inhibitory control in 6-year-old children

Psychological Research > Uitgave 4/2017
Andrea Frick, Denise Baumeler


Developmental research on spatial perspective taking has shown that young children are able to solve perspective-taking problems under favorable circumstances, but they have difficulties succeeding in classic tasks involving a conflict between one’s own perspective and that of another observer. To date, little is known about the reasons for young children’s difficulties in dealing with incongruent perspectives. Based on the assumption that one’s own perspective has to be ignored to imagine someone else’s perspective, it was investigated whether perspective taking is related to inhibitory control in 6-year-olds (N = 140). An adapted version of the ‘Fruit Stroop task’, appropriate for preschool children, was used to assess inhibitory control. Perspective taking was assessed using the ‘Perspective-Taking Test for Children’. Other spatial and nonspatial abilities were assessed to investigate the specificity of the relation. Results showed a significant correlation between perspective taking and inhibitory control, even when controlled for age, verbal-IQ, and socio-economic status. However, no significant correlations between inhibition and other spatial abilities were found, indicating a specific relation between inhibition and perspective taking. A linear regression analysis showed that, even after accounting for effects of control variables as well as other mental transformation abilities, inhibition accounted for a significant part of the variance in perspective-taking performance. The present findings provide valuable information on what contributes to individual differences in perspective taking, which is an important aspect of everyday cognition and bears relevance for reasoning in technical domains.

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