The Influence of Positive Affect on Cognitive Flexibility in 3-to 5-year-olds
|Course||Developmental and Educational Psychology|
|Keywords||cognitive flexibility young children categorization task preschoolers’ attention switching task boy-girl task|
As an important feature of human mind, cognitive flexibility enables people to switch mental representation flexibly and converts one’s stereotype to adapt to changing and unpredictable environment. It is mainly reflected by inflexibility. As to young children, it mainly lies in persistent error, that repeating the strong reaction deviating from current cognitive target. From the research methods, we found that most of the available research tasks are deductive. In contrast, the inductive tasks are inadequate. In real life, there are often no definite external cues telling us when to change and how to change, however. Then, children have to make appropriate decisions by analysising the correlate rules by themselves, so the later has more significance. From the current researches, we can see that positive emotions can facilitate cognitive flexibility, but most of these studies focus on adults, researches for children are rare. Consequently, to explore the influence of positive emotions on cognitive flexibility in young children, this study designed a new inductive task, used the face sketch to induce emotion, and adopted three tasks. The subjects are 162 children between 3-5 years old.Experiment1 adopted categorization task. We certified the availability of the new task. The results showed that (1) positive affect can promote cognitive flexibility and this facilitation is only for 4 and 5 years old children.(2) Classification flexibility develops gradually from 3 to 5years old, and it still develops after 5 years old.(3)The development of cognitive flexibility involves in this task is behind that involves in deductive classification task.Experiment2 adopted boy-girl task. The results showed that (1) children can complete the task better in positive emotion state compared to others. They can inhibit their forceful response more strongly to represent objects oppositely. However this facilitation is only for 3 and 4 years old children (2) 3 years old children can complete this task very well. While 5 years old children can complete the task perfectly.Experiment3 adopted preschoolers’attention switching task. The result showed that 3 years old children already can complete this task at some degree. Comparing with the development from 3 to 4 years old, cognitive flexibility involves in this task develops faster from 4 to 5 years old. However, there are no significant effects of positive affect on attention switching performance.From the above three experiments, it can be concluded that (1) the effects of positive affect on cognitive flexibility depend on ages and tasks.(2) Cognitive flexibility contains different components relatively independent, which have different developmental processes. (3) There are no significant gender effects on development of cognitive flexibility and facilitation of positive affect.