Being optimally aroused matters: Effects of a weak stress manipulation on children’s executive functions are moderated by temperament and age

Neuenschwander, Regula; Roebers, Claudia M.; Blair, Clancy (2014). Being optimally aroused matters: Effects of a weak stress manipulation on children’s executive functions are moderated by temperament and age. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 4(1), pp. 194-208. Canadian Center of Science and Education 10.5539/jedp.v4n1p194

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We tested a core assumption of the bidirectional model of executive function (EF) (Blair & Ursache, 2011) indicating that EF is dependent on arousal. From a bottom-up perspective the performance on EF tasks is assumed to be curvilinearly related to arousal, with very high or low levels of arousal impairing EF. N = 107 4-and 6-year-olds’ performance on EF tasks was explored as a function of a weak stress manipulation aiming to raise children’s emotional arousal. EF (Stroop, Flanker, Go/no-go, and Backwards Color Recall) was assessed and stress was induced in half of the children by imposing a mild social evaluative threat. Furthermore, children’s temperament was assessed as a potential moderator. We found that stress effects on children’s EF performance were moderated by age and temperament: 4-year-olds with high Inhibitory Control and high Attentional Focusing were negatively affected by the stressor. However, it is unclear whether these effects were mediated by self-reported arousal. Our findings disconfirmed the hypotheses that adverse effects of the stressor are particularly high in children high on emotional reactivity aspects of temperament and low on self-regulatory aspects of temperament. Further, 6-year-olds did not show any stress effects. Results will be discussed within the framework of the Yerkes-Dodson law and with regard to stress manipulations in children.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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

UniBE Contributor:

Neuenschwander, Regula and Roebers, Claudia

Subjects:

100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology

ISSN:

1927-0526

Publisher:

Canadian Center of Science and Education

Language:

English

Submitter:

Jeannine Sebel

Date Deposited:

20 Jan 2015 14:32

Last Modified:

11 Aug 2015 15:30

Publisher DOI:

10.5539/jedp.v4n1p194

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.61822

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/61822

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