Sustained attention and its relationship to fluid intelligence and working memory in children

Völke, Annik E.; Roebers, Claudia M. (2016). Sustained attention and its relationship to fluid intelligence and working memory in children. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 6(1), pp. 131-139. Canadian Center of Science and Education 10.5539/jedp.v6n1p131

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Understanding individual differences in intelligence remains an interesting research question, even with more than a century of empirical research and large numbers of models and theories. We know that working memory (WM) is able to explain substantial amounts of variance in fluid intelligence in both children and adults, but we also know that it is not the only predictor of intelligence. There are many other information-processing mechanisms that have been studied. Results in adult samples seem to indicate that sustained attention—the ability to maintain attention on a specific task over an extended period of time—is strongly related to fluid intelligence. There is little research on this topic in childhood, but the available data seems to converge with results from adult samples. The aim of the present study was to assess sustained attention and its relationship to fluid intelligence and WM in children. Additionally, we wanted to explore whether sustained attention contributes to the prediction of intelligence over and above WM. A sample of 125 ten-year olds was assessed using tests of fluid intelligence, sustained attention and WM. The results showed that, as expected, WM and fluid intelligence were significantly related. Surprisingly however, sustained attention was not related to fluid intelligence or WM. Using results from previous studies and theoretical considerations, we concluded that sustained attention may not be directly related to fluid intelligence in childhood, but rather that it may be a more distal factor influencing information processing in more unstructured learning situations and hence impacting academic achievement.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

Graduate School:

Swiss Graduate School for Cognition, Learning and Memory (SGS-CLM)

UniBE Contributor:

Völke, Annik and Roebers, Claudia


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Canadian Center of Science and Education




Michelle Maurer

Date Deposited:

28 Jun 2017 10:38

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2017 18:56

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

sustained attention, fluid intelligence, working memory, childhood




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