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Efficiency of Executive Function: A Two-Generation Cross-Cultural Comparison of Samples From Hong Kong and the United Kingdom

Efficiency of Executive Function: A Two-Generation Cross-Cultural Comparison of Samples From Hong Kong and the United Kingdom

Psychological Science 28(5): 555-566

Although Asian preschoolers acquire executive functions (EFs) earlier than their Western counterparts, little is known about whether this advantage persists into later childhood and adulthood. To address this gap, in the current study we gave four computerized EF tasks (providing measures of inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and planning) to a large sample ( n = 1,427) of 9- to 16-year-olds and their parents. All participants lived in either the United Kingdom or Hong Kong. Our findings highlight the importance of combining developmental and cultural perspectives and show both similarities and contrasts across sites. Specifically, adults' EF performance did not differ between the two sites; age-related changes in executive function for both the children and the parents appeared to be culturally invariant, as did a modest intergenerational correlation. In contrast, school-age children and young adolescents in Hong Kong outperformed their United Kingdom counterparts on all four EF tasks, a difference consistent with previous findings from preschool children.

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Accession: 059668722

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PMID: 28384072

DOI: 10.1177/0956797616687812

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